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CBS KEYE TV News: Hundreds March in Austin calling for a stop to the death penalty

Hundreds march in Austin, calling for a stop to the death penalty
Oct 24, 2009

Hundreds of protestors marched down Congress Avenue from the State Capitol to Sixth Street and back on Saturday, calling for an end to the death penalty in Texas.

Many carried signs with pictures of loved ones on death row.

However, most of the crowd held pictures of Cameron Todd Willingham.

Protestors say the state killed an innocent man when they executed Willingham in 2004 and they want Governor Rick Perry to acknowledge what they are calling a “wrongful” execution.

Willingham was convicted for the death of his three children, killed in a fire in Corsicana, Texas in 1991, but now forensic scientists are questioning the arson evidence used against him.

The governor has been criticized for replacing members of the Texas Forensic Science Commission just before they were to review a new report critical of the arson science used to convict Willingham.

Governor Perry told reporters after a luncheon earlier this month that he stands by his decision on the execution of Willingham and that people have already testified to the facts of this case.

Lydia Garza, a protestor, says she knows the pain the family feels because her son is on death row.

He was convicted under the law of parties, said Garza. He was not at the scene of the crime. He did not commit the murders, but yet he sits on death row.”

Garza tells KEYE TV she marched on Saturday not only for her son, but for all the families who have loved ones on death row.

“As Texans, as people, as humans, we cannot allow other people to be killed, said Garza. Thats not the way to justice.”

Speakers also called for an end to the death penalty in Texas, including Jeanette Popp, whose daughter was murdered.

“The man that killed my daughter was a human being, said Popp. He had a mother. He had a family and never could I put another mother what that man put me through.”

The tenth annual march against the death penalty in Texas had dozens of groups behind it, including the Texas Moratorium Network, The Austin Charter of the Campaign to end the death penalty and Texas Students against the Death Penalty.

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Scott Cobb

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