There are a number of executions scheduled for the coming weeks, including a 2nd in Florida. Here’s a schedule and a bit of info about each one:
October 20: Christopher Johnson, Alabama
Slated to be executed for the 2005 death of his infant son, Johnson is a volunteer for execution. He refused to pursue appeals in his case and filed papers saying he did not want anyone going to court on his behalf. At his trial in 2006, Johnson represented himself, testifying that he hit and suffocated his son because he hated his wife. He asked for the death penalty during sentencing and the jury complied. Johnson will be the 6th person executed in Alabama this year.
October 27: Frank Garcia, Texas
Convicted of killing a San Antonio police officer nine years ago, Frank Garcia Jr. is scheduled to become the 12th person executed in Texas this year. The officer, Hector Garza, responded to a domestic dispute call at Garcia’s home, where his wife was moving out. Garcia turned two guns on the officer and also fatally shot his wife.
November 9: Hank Skinner, Texas
The November date is Texas’s fourth attempt at executing Skinner for the 1993 murders of his girlfriend and her two sons. Skinner has steadfastly protested his innocence and his case has been taken on by a number of advocates and activists. There is a wealth of DNA evidence, some of which was used to convict Skinner. However, not all of it was tested. There is a rape kit, murder weapons, hairs in the female victim’s hand and a windbreaker left at the scene. None of these items were tested.
Skinner has asked repeatedly for the state to test this evidence, and Texas courts have repeatedly said no. Skinner came within an hour of being executed in 2010, before the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay. The case was sent back to federal district court to decide whether Skinner is entitled to the DNA testing. The court still has not ruled on the issue, however, Texas has already set another execution date for next month. Some say it’s another instance, similar to the Todd Willingham case, of the state rushing ahead without testing everything to be certain what they are doing is right.
If you’d like to read more, the Texas Tribune has excellent coverage of this complicated case.
November 10: Anthony Juniper, Virginia
Juniper was convicted of killing his former girlfriend, her two children and her brother in Norfolk, Virginia. Juniper tried to appeal and introduce new evidence based on the criminal conviction of Robert Ford, who was a lead investigator in the case against him. Ford was convicted of extortion and lying to the FBI, but a judge rejected Juniper’s argument that Ford was a key figure in the verdict against him. He will be the 2nd person executed in Virginia in 2011.
November 15: Oba Chandler, Florida
As I’ve previously detailed, Chandler was sentenced to death for the 1989 murders of Joan Rogers and her two teenage daughters while the three were on vacation in Florida. Chandler is currently trying to appeal his execution on grounds that the way Florida imposes its death penalty is unconstitutional. A hearing on Chandler’s motion is set for Friday.
November 15: Reginald Brooks, Ohio
After serving almost three decades on Ohio’s death row, Reginald Brooks is slated to be executed for the 1982 killings of his three sons. Allegedly he was upset with his wife after being served with divorce papers, so he shot their three children execution style. Advocates for Brooks say he suffers from paranoia and schizophrenia and that his lawyers did not thoroughly interview friends, family members and mental health experts who could have provided insight about his mental state. Brooks will be the 5th person executed in Ohio this year.
November 16: Guadalupe Esparza, Texas
Convicted more than a decade ago for the death of a 7-year-old girl, Esparza is set to be the last execution in Texas of 2011. After the date was set his attorney asked that it be postponed for an investigation into claims of mental retardation. However, previous testing has shown that Esparza does not meet the qualifications for mental retardation, according to an appellate court.