Tonight’s Execution: Carroll Parr, Texas

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Editor’s Note: I’m traveling throughout April and May, and will have intermittent access to internet. Because of that, postings may be less frequent or updated at a slower pace than usual.

There were two executions scheduled for tonight and it’s likely the controversy of one will overshadow the other. In a highly-criticized case in Mississippi, state officials say there should be no DNA or fingerprint testing for Willie Manning, who has always maintained his innocence. In a rare move, the Department of Justice and the FBI have admitted reports and testimony by FBI examiners from the original trial were inaccurate and have offered to do additional DNA testing. There is no physical evidence tying Manning to the crime and activists, legal analysts and members of the media are calling for the tests to be done prior to his execution.

UPDATE: By a vote of 8-1, the Supreme Court of Mississippi this afternoon halted Manning’s execution, just hours before he was to be put to death by lethal injection at Parchman prison. Read more about the latest in Manning’s case here.

Meanwhile in Texas, not much was being said about the execution of Carroll Parr, slated to die at 6 p.m. who was executed tonight for the 2003 shooting of a drug dealer in a robbery gone wrong. His execution was the 497th in Texas since the death penalty was reinstated.

For the sake of easy posting from a place with dodgy internet, here’s more on Parr’s case from The Associated Press:

LIVINGSTON, TX — Condemned Texas inmate Carroll Parr says he’s OK with capital punishment but doesn’t believe he should be facing lethal injection this week.

“I’m not guilty of what I’m on death row for,” Parr said recently from a tiny visiting cage at the East Texas prison that houses the state’s 275 condemned men. “I believe in the death penalty. I believe in the Bible. I disagree in how it’s carried out.”

Parr, 35, a Waco drug dealer who was known on the streets at “Outlaw,” is set to die Tuesday evening for the 2003 robbery and fatal shooting of a man following a drug deal outside a convenience store.

Parr would be the fifth Texas inmate executed this year. At least 10 others have execution dates scheduled for the coming months, including one next week.

“I have been dealing with death all my life,” Parr told The Associated Press. “This is nothing I fear. … My execution is a release for me and a relief.”

Attorneys for Parr last week argued unsuccessfully in state courts and to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that a witness at Parr’s 2004 trial had provided an affidavit saying his testimony was false and that he’d been encouraged by McLennan County prosecutors to testify falsely. Trial prosecutors denied the accusations and said the witness’ retraction wasn’t credible.

The 5th Circuit last year rejected another appeal from Parr, and the U.S. Supreme Court in January refused to review his case.

Parr was convicted of the slaying of 18-year-old Joel Dominguez.

According to court records, Parr bought marijuana from Dominguez at a convenience store in Waco, then came back with a friend, Earl Whiteside, to get his money back.

Dominguez and another man, Mario Chavez, were hustled to a fenced area next to the store, where Parr pistol-whipped Dominguez and demanded his money back. Dominguez complied.

Parr ordered Whiteside to “smoke ’em,” according to court documents. Whiteside shot Chavez in the hand, critically wounding him. Parr then shot Dominguez in the head.

“He grabbed a gun and the gun went off,” Parr said of Dominguez from prison. “I wasn’t holding the gun. I wasn’t at the scene of the crime.”

A surveillance video showing him at the store was from an hour or more before the robbery, Parr said, and manipulated by authorities who fabricated evidence against him.

“They chopped the tape,” Parr said. He declined to identify the shooter, saying he had told the people involved in the shooting: “I ain’t going to tell on y’all.”

“I gave the dudes my word,” he said.

Witnesses testified Parr subsequently was angry with Whiteside for not killing Chavez because a witness to the shootings remained alive. Whiteside, who wound up with a 15-year prison term for aggravated robbery, and Chavez both identified Parr as the killer.

Four other people, including Parr’s girlfriend, testified he told them he was the shooter.

Parr, from prison, described himself as a third-grade dropout who “grew up on the streets since I was 9” and fathered five children.

“Unfortunately, Carroll has some sort of seedy criminal history,” Russ Hunt Sr., one of Parr’s trial lawyers, said. Parr also had an abusive childhood and a “hellacious environment where he grew up,” Hunt said.

Evidence showed at the time of the slaying Parr already had been convicted of three counts of delivery of cocaine and placed on probation. He also had other drug convictions, a parole violation and a conviction for evading arrest. He was also linked to but not charged with a fatal drive-by shooting, as well as another shooting and an assault.

“We did our best for him,” Hunt said. “I’d say it’s always disappointing and frustrating to have a jury not agree with you.

“They believed him to be a cold-blooded murderer.”

Parr was pronounced at 6:32 p.m. CT, 19 minutes after the procedure began. An Associated Press report has details of his final words:

In the seconds before being injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital, Carroll Joe Parr told his victim’s wife she should talk to her brother to learn “the truth about what happened to your husband.”

Then, in what he called a “statement to the world,” Parr said he was “in the midst of the truth.”

“I am good. I am straight,” he said.

He added that he wanted his “partners” or friends to know that he would “be back” like the Arnold Schwarzenegger “Terminator” film character.

“I’m on my way back. … These eyes will close, but they will be opened again,” Parr said before telling his family he loved them and thanking his spiritual adviser.

The next lethal injection in Texas is scheduled for next week, when Jeffrey Williams is slated for execution for the 1999 killing of a Houston police officer.

Related Reading:

Death Watch: No Place for Mitigation

DA Rejects Death Row Inmate’s Claim of More Waco Killings

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