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KVUE: Death penalty opponents call for a moratorium in Texas

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October 27, 2009

News for Austin, Texas KVUE

Death penalty opponents Tuesday called for a moratorium on the death penalty in Texas, as the state prepared to execute another inmate.

October 27th, 2009
KVUE’s Martin Bartlett reports

Reginald Blanton was executed Tuesday evening.

A San Antonio jury convicted Blanton of murder in 2001. Eight years and several appeals later the Texas Department of Criminal Justice was ready to execute him.

Shujaa Graham spent more than a decade on death row in California. He helped hand-deliver a petition opposing Blanton’s execution.

“It’s totally, it’s totally broken,” Graham said. “I would tell the governor of Texas that we need a moratorium on the death penalty and that many people have died that are innocent — and they’ll continue to die.”

Graham and other activists who gathered on the steps of the Capitol believe that Cameron Todd Willingham was one of them. They say Willingham wasn’t to blame for the fire that killed his three kids.

“Cameron Todd Willingham was a monster. This is a guy who murdered his three children,” Perry said in early October. The governor’s office re-affirmed his statement.

A spokeswoman also says the governor continues to support the death penalty for those convicted of “the most heinous crimes.”

Scott Cobb of the Texas Moratorium Network wants the state to appoint an independent commission to thoroughly study the way Texas carries out the death penalty.

“If you can get it wrong in one case, you can get it wrong in probably many cases,” he said.

Activists like Graham say they understand there’s probably a long road ahead.

“So much has been learned over the last five or six months here in Texas. We should really study it,” Graham said.

Governor Perry was out of town Tuesday. Officials in his office say he’s meeting with Texas business leaders in New York.

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