If it’s something you’d just as soon not think about, chances are Pamela Colloff has written about it for TEXAS MONTHLY. Here is a partial list of the subjects she’s covered since coming to work at the magazine thirteen years ago: murder, arson, abortion, heroin addiction, hate crimes, illegal immigration, murder, meth addiction, the Charles Whitman shootings, the Branch Davidian standoff, murder, and war.
The TDCJ doesn't want to release information on the size of the death penalty drug stockpile at the state’s disposal, because, as Allan Turner of the Houston Chronicle reports, the department believes that if it released this information, manufacturers and suppliers would be put at risk.
A couple of Fridays ago, Kerry Max Cook, who was released from Texas’ death row in 1997 after two decades, went to pick up his eleven-year-old son, Kerry Justice, from his North Dallas school. Class was just letting out. As Cook approached a group of children and their parents, a little girl squirmed out of her mother’s arms and ran toward him. “Mr. Kerry!” she called. He laughed as she jumped into his arms. “Haleigh!” he shouted, and began tickling her. “She adores Mr. Kerry,” her mother said.
The state's first execution of the year is scheduled for Thursday night. Rodrigo Hernandez, who was convicted of the rape and murder of Susan Verstegen, a 38-year-old single mother and Frito-Lay employee, is set to die.
In February 1994, Verstegen's body was found in a 55-gallon barrel outside of a San Antonio church. The case had gone cold until 2002, when DNA evidence collected in Michigan linked Hernandez, 38, to Verstegen's death.
No surprise here. Texas led the country in executions in 2011, putting thirteen prisoners to death, according to the Death Penalty Information Center's annual report. But executions were down by almost half since 2009, when the state executed 24 people.
UPDATE: July 29,2011
So you think the presidential election in Florida lasted a long time? Try Texas. We've been living with it not for weeks, not for months, but for years. Here the campaign began two years ago with the 1999 legislative session and Governor George W. Bush's program that was tailored to win him the Republican nomination. And here, long after the next president of the United States is inaugurated, the campaign and its aftershocks will go on and on.
HER PECULIAR LITTLE PERSON was all contradiction. She was sunny and nice, and she gave you the creeps. She was an innocent who was a guilty criminal. She was evil, and she was embraced by religious leaders who declared she was good. If any crime deserved the death penalty, hers did. Yet the world was outraged when Texas executed her this past February. Karla Faye Tucker forced the issue of capital punishment as no one has in years.
TWO YEARS AGO I ATTENDED A TRIAL in Houston that resulted in the death penalty for a woman. At the time, there had been several national stories about the number of death sentences handed down in Harris County, more by far than in any other county in the country, and I was there to see what I thought about it. Erica Yvonne Sheppard, who was then 21, had helped murder a woman for her car. The physical evidence against her was incontrovertible, and she had confessed as well.