Our beloved state often leads the nation in the number of executions per year, and we're not about to give up that title (here's looking at you, Georgia!) Here's a recap of our coverage of the state's modern history with the death penalty.
Texas Concludes Record-Breaking Streak of Not Executing People
Texas concluded last night its impressive, record-breaking gap in executions, having gone a whole six months without killing a single person. It is the longest lull in executions since 2008, when the U.S. Supreme Court was considering the legality of lethal injections, the manner in which Barney Fuller Jr. was put to death yesterday.
Supreme Court to Vet "Lennie Test" for Executing Mentally Disabled Inmates
More than a decade ago the U.S. Supreme Court declared executing mentally disabled people unconstitutional. However, the court didn't define what standards should be used to determine what level of disability precludes execution, so Texas came up with its own standards, derived from John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. Go figure that these "standards," based on a fictional character and no scientific evidence, have turned out to be problematic at best. And now the Supreme Court is looking at the consequences.
Texas Is Fighting to Save an Endangered Species: The Death Penalty
Bexar County sheriff's Sergeant Kenneth Van was stopped at a red light on May 28, 2011, when Mark Anthony Gonzalez pulled up and fired more than 25 rounds from an assault rifle into the officer's cruiser. At his trial last month, a friend told jurors that Gonzalez chuckled when he let slip that he'd just murdered a cop.
Gonzalez was the third murderer sentenced to death by a Texas jury this year, which means the state with the most active execution chamber in the country will see fewer death sentences in 2015 than in any other year since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.
Supreme Court Justice Questions Death Penalty, Cites Two Texans Who Were (Probably) Wrongly Executed
Yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it's fine, constitutionally speaking, to execute inmates with the sedative midazolam, a drug that in some ways has become emblematic of the death penalty debate in America today.
No Death Penalties This Year for the Death-Penalty Capital of America (That's Us)
Harris County is known as a pipeline for Death Row, but that changed this year. The county hasn't had a death penalty conviction in 2008, the first time that's happened since 1977, the year capital punishment was reinstated and Chuck Rosenthal was hired as an assistant district attorney.