The Austin Chronicle

Rick Perry Death Watch

By Jordan Smith, February 24, 2012, News

Texas is scheduled to carry out two executions next week, which would bring the total to 480 since reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976.

Anthony Bartee is scheduled for execution on Feb. 28, in connection with the 1996 murder in San Antonio of his friend David Cook. According to the state, Bartee, who was on parole at the time after being sent up for aggravated rape, shot 37-year-old Cook in the head and neck and fled the scene on Cook's motorcycle. But reportedly Bartee has maintained his innocence, saying he was friends with Cook and was with him at the time of the murder, but was not responsible for his death. According to the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, Bexar County Judge Mary Román in 2007 ordered DNA testing on hairs found in Cook's hands. To date, however, only hairs found in Cook's left hand have been tested; those did not match Bartee but may have been Cook's. TCADP is asking Gov. Rick Perry to grant a one-time stay of execution so that the additional testing can be done. (Why the testing still hasn't been completed isn't entirely clear, though TCADP says the state incorrectly told Román that all the evidence that could be tested has been tested.)

Also on deck is George Rivas, scheduled for execution on Feb. 29. Rivas was one of the infamous Texas 7, who escaped from prison near San Antonio in December 2000 and on Christmas Eve, during a robbery at an Oshman's Sporting Goods in Irving, shot and killed Irving Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins – who had just finished eating dinner with his family at a restaurant nearby when a "suspicious circumstance" call came in. At the time of the prison break, Rivas was serving life in prison on 13 counts of aggravated kidnapping, four counts of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, and one count of burglary of a habitation.

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