This Guy Gets Cell Phone Service On Death Row

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Can you hear me now?

Even though I'm calling from Death Row?

You can if you are Richard Tabler, currently waiting to be executed for killing two people. TDCJ investigators are looking into how Tabler got a cell phone and "use it to call a Houston senator, among others," as the agency's statement says.

Tabler's mother was arrested today, charged with providing minutes for the phone. TDCJ said 2,800 calls were made from the phone in 30 days.

Hope she had a good plan.

TDCJ spokeswoman Michelle Lyons tells Hair Balls that it is indeed possible that the phone got passed around:

Inmates on death row are segregated within their cells but they have the ability not only to speak to one another through slats in the door, they can also pass things to one another. There is a space at the bottom of each cell door through which inmates have been known to exchange notes, commissary items and in this case it appears, a cell phone.

Among the people called: State Sen. John Whitmire. His office contacted TDCJ to tell them that, um, someone was calling the senator from Death Row.

Eleven days later -- after Whitmire "initiated a meeting with [TDCJ] to determine the status of the investigation" -- Tabler's mother was arrested at an Austin airport and "Offender Tabler was found in possession of a cell phone [and] surrendered it without incident."

"What are you gonna do? Kill me?" he apparently didn't say.

The incident, however, explains the weird geeky-looking guy who has been standing outside Death Row with a bunch of workers in recent weeks.

-- Richard Connelly

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