Naked City

CCA Judge Backs Moratorium

On Oct. 25, veteran Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Tom Price called for a moratorium on executions of Harris Co. defendants convicted based on evidence processed by the Houston Police crime lab, until questions about the work done there can be resolved. "I think it would be prudent to delay further executions until we have had a chance to have this evidence independently verified," Price told the Houston Chronicle. "Once a death sentence is carried out, you cannot reverse that."

Price's comments came on the heels of the Board of Pardons and Paroles' denial of clemency for Dominique Green, executed Tuesday night for a 1992 Houston murder. (The board voted 6-0 to deny clemency and 5-1 to deny a commutation, with Panhandle attorney Charles Aycock dissenting.) Price was the lone dissenting vote last week when the CCA denied Green's request for a stay of execution based on the problems plaguing the Houston lab. Green was 18 when he was convicted for the robbery and shooting death; Green has admitted taking part in the robbery but denies that he was the shooter. Ballistics tests from the HPD lab allegedly tied Green to the murder. On Tuesday, a federal district judge stayed Green's execution, citing problems with the HPD lab's handling of evidence, but the state got the reprieve lifted by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Not surprisingly, Harris Co. District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal told the daily that his office has "carefully reviewed" lab evidence in Green's case and those of six other Harris Co. defendants set to be executed in the next five months, and said that he is "sure" about the accuracy of the evidence against the condemned men. This despite the fact that Houston police recently discovered 280 boxes of evidence, connected to nearly 8,000 criminal cases, that had been mislabeled; so far only 25% of the evidence has been reviewed. Still, the idea that the state may be poised to execute inmates for crimes they didn't commit doesn't appear to bother Harris Co. prosecutor Roe Wilson, who handled Green's case. She sent an investigator to "visually look at" the gun and bullet that the state says tie Green to the murder – and that, apparently, is enough for her. "The criminal justice system cannot stop for a year," she said.

  • More of the Story

  • Naked City

    Headlines and happenings from Austin and beyond

    Naked City

    The repaired dinosaur roars once more over Guadalupe Street

    Naked City

    Austin collaboration offers state's first curbside electronics recycling

    Naked City

    A new site, a new battle for the Austin Jockey Club
  • Naked City

    Stumping in Oregon, JFK opposes federal meddling in med-marijuana fight

    Naked City

    Elementary school aims high with state-of-the-art home for science

    Naked City

    A dim view of high-stakes testing at UT forum

    Naked City

    The trustees spar briefly over when to build their new schools

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for over 36 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
MORE Death Penalty
Death Watch: Madness and Forensics
Death Watch: Madness and Forensics
Two capital cases raise psychological and evidentiary issues

Jordan Smith, Oct. 4, 2013

Death Watch: Running Low on Poison
Death Watch: Running Low on Poison
The state of Texas has three executions' worth of pentobarbitol

Jordan Smith, Aug. 9, 2013

More by Jordan Smith
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
'Chrome Underground' Goes Classic Car Hunting
Motoreum's Yusuf & Antonio talk about the biz and their reality TV debut

May 22, 2014

APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
APD Brass Shifts Up, Down, Across
Musical chairs at Downtown HQ

May 9, 2014

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Court of Criminal Appeals, CCA, Roe Wilson, Tom Price, death penalty, moratorium, Chuck Rosenthal, Dominique Green

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle