Rick Perry Likes the Death Penalty
Rick Perry likes killing all kinds of people—kid people, innocent people, black people, mentally ill people, and just plain people people. It really doesn’t matter to him.
The Kids: Napoleon Beazley was a 17-year-old honor student, football star, and senior class president with no criminal record. While trying to steal a car in 1994, he shot and killed a man. During his sentencing hearing in Smith County, the district attorney from the youngster’s Houston County community asked the jury for life instead of death. The trial judge later asked Rick Perry to commute the death sentence. But his reply was hell no, kill ’em all! Napoleon was executed on May 28, 2002. Three years later, the conservative U.S. Supreme Court in Roper v. Simmons banned the death penalty for juveniles as “cruel and unusual punishment” in violation of the Eighth Amendment.
The Innocents: Cameron Todd Willingham was convicted of the 1991 arson deaths of his three young daughters. Dr. Gerald Hurst, a nationally renown arson expert, submitted an official report to Perry’s Board of Pardons and Parole (BPP)—which votes to approve or deny death sentence commutations—indicating that the prosecutor’s fire investigation was woefully flawed and that there was no proof of arson. Another expert, Louisiana Fire Chief Kendall Ryland, who also reviewed the entire case file, agreed. In 2005, the Texas Forensic Science Commission (FSC) was established to address this kind of tragic error. But just two days before the FSC was to hold a 2009 hearing on Hurst’s scathing report, Perry abruptly replaced three members and canceled the hearing. Finally, in 2011, the FSC recommended more education and more training for fire investigators. A lot good that did for Willingham. He was already dead, having been executed on February 17, 2004.
The Blacks For Being Black: Duane Buck was sentenced to death in 1997 for the 1995 murder of his ex-girlfriend. When questioned by prosecutor Joan Huffman during Buck’s sentencing hearing, Dr. Walter Quijano, who is the former chief psychologist of the Texas Department of Corrections, responded “yes” to the question whether “the race factor, black, increases … future dangerousness …” Yep. He sure did. And he did so without even cracking a racist smile. The Texas attorney general at the time, current Republican U.S. Senator and Perry ally John Cornyn, stated in his 2000 report that six cases have been so racially polluted by Quijano that Perry should schedule new sentencing hearings for each. In fact, federal courts have done just that in five cases. Even one of the trial prosecutors wants a new hearing because, in her words, “Race should never be put in front of a jury in any case, particularly a death penalty case.” But Buck will die very soon if Perry’s appointed BPP rejects the clemency request.
The Mentally Ill: In June of 2002, Perry vetoed a ban on the execution of mentally ill inmates, contending, “This legislation is not about whether to execute mentally retarded murderers. It’s about who determines whether a defendant is mentally retarded in the Texas justice system.” And because he, like former Governor George W. Bush is “the Decider,” every inmate in Texas is determined to be Albert Einstein—like Walter Bell who killed two persons in 1974 and who a six-member team of state-employed mental health professionals along with a prison psychiatrist concluded was “mentally retarded.” Despite prosecutors’ repeated arguments throughout the decades, Bell was released from death row after a state judge in 2004, adhering to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 Atkins v. Virginia decision declaring the death penalty for such persons to be “cruel and unusual punishment,” ruled that Bell fit the guidelines for “mental retardation.” But Perry and his gang of state-sanctioned killers, I mean death penalty prosecutors, already knew that. It didn’t take about 30 years of Bell deteriorating on death row for them to realize that. They were well aware that his I.Q. was in the mid-50s and that the threshold for “mental retardation” is 70.
According to the Death Penalty Information Center, approximately seven percent of the Texas’s “Dead Men and Women Walking” have I.Q.s less than 70. What about the severely mentally ill Kelsey Patterson? After murdering two women in 1992 for no reason whatsoever, he wandered the streets dressed only in socks. A diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, Patterson had been ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial on other charges. Even the BPP had voted 5-1 to commute his death sentence. But, alas, Perry once again replied hell no, kill ‘em all! Patterson was executed on May 18, 2004.
During the September 7th Republican presidential debate, Perry was asked this about the 234 executions he approved as Texas governor: “Have you struggled to sleep at night with the idea that any one of those might be innocent?” He answered “no”—because he had determined that the process is mistake-proof. Does he expect us to believe that every single one of those 234 cases had perfect investigations, perfect arrests, perfect hearings, perfect trials, perfect sentencings, and perfect appeals regardless of income, race or gender? Is he aware that 273 American citizens have been exonerated throughout the country since DNA testing has been available (and that 166 of them are black)?
Perry kills people who have already been captured and who have already been shackled in jail for life, but he claims to be an evangelical Christian. Yeah, that makes sense. And I’m quite sure that Jesus would do the very same thing.