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Texas death row inmates, L-R: Kenneth Parr, Johnny Conner, Daroyce

Mosley, John Amador and Kenneth Foster. Only Kenneth Foster remains.

 

El Mundo, Spain

Number 401: The Texas Killing

Machine Rolls Mercilessly On …

 

"In the 21st century State of Texas, the deep seated racism of the South joins with the thirst for vengeance of the Old West, rivaling Iran and China in death penalty statistics."

 

By Carlos Fresneda

 

Translated By Paula van de Werken

 

August 26, 2007

 

Spain - El Mundo - Original Article (Spanish)

Executions. In the 21st century state of Texas, the deep seated racism of the South joins with the thirst for vengeance of the Old West, rivaling Iran and China in death penalty statistics. On Thursday they complete the execution of Number 400, Johnny Ray Conner, and the machinery is already gearing up to inject Number 401 - DaRoyce Mosley - who is also black, also poor.

 

The announced date for the death of Mosley is August 28, and the Huntsville executioners will work all week to keep to their lethal timetable. On the 29th, the execution of John Joe Amador and the 30th, that of Kenneth Foster is planned. Both have begun a symbolic hunger strike, although it wouldn't be the first time that prisoners have been force-fed only for them to be executed later.

 

About half a kilometer from the execution-prison, in this sinister little town that lives by and for death, an electric chair is exhibited to outsiders as though it were a local relic. Executions are nothing more than a weekly routine in Huntsville: They have already taken the lives of 21 this year, as compared to 14 in the rest of the United States.

 

Periodically, global attention gravitates toward this place, a stone’s throw from the ranch  in Crawford where the presence of former governor George W. Bush is felt. His successor, Rick Perry, hasn’t wanted to cheat the fundamentalist parish, and this week defended the death sentence as an “appropriate punishment,” in answer to the unforgivable intrusion of the European Union - which has dared to seek mercy for criminal number 400, John Ray Conner.

 

The 32-year-old Conner was accused of the murder of a 49-year-old woman in a Houston shop. Three witnesses identified him during the trial, but not one of them seemed to notice his limp, which was the result of a broken leg. The court-appointed lawyer fulfilled his duties: he didn’t call anyone to testify on Conner’s behalf. The jury condemned him to death.

 

A Federal Court called for a retrial due to this poor defense, but the public prosecutor's office won the appeal, and the machinery of death ran its course. Jim Marcus, one of the many shyster lawyers engaged in fighting the windmills of Texas justice, presented a final appeal to the Supreme Court. But the bolt-out-of-the-blue salvation didn’t arrive, and of course neither did clemency from Governor Perry, who sent the Europeans a contemptuous warning along the lines of, “Don’t Mess with Texas.”

 

 

“What is going to happen to me is unjust and the system is broken,” said Conner, moments before dying. He didn’t ask for anything to eat. His last words, as a convert to Islam, were for Allah and Mohammed. He also remembered his family: “I love you.” In the chamber of death - on the other side of the glass - were his parents and the family members of the victim, as the rules require. Outside of the prison, separated by police barricades, the defenders and detractors of capital punishment are engaged in a useless war of words. It's just another one. And so goes number 400 in Texas since the death penalty was reinstated [in 1976] - and a total of 1,091 from the 38 other States where the practice continues to be followed with such vigor, and where the peculiar list of Articles of Human Rights don't seem to matter.

 

As usual, the execution was just a discreet footnote in the American press, in the face of overwhelming European coverage and the stupefaction of the Huntsville populace, who can't get over all the international attention they receive as a result of these local events.

 

The sky's the limit in Texas, as is well known, although change seems to be on the horizon. David Atwood of the Texas Coalition Against the Death Penalty testifies to this. “This year there have only been 11 death sentences, as opposed to 50 in 1999. The system isn't watertight and the juries know it. The innocents on Death Row are giving people a lot to think about, and everyone knows that there's an inherent racism in the application of capital punishment.”

 

Forty one percent of those condemned to death in Texas are Black (139), although they only comprise 12 percent of the [American] population. In 80 percent of capital punishment cases, the victims are white. Racism even discriminates against the victims, meanwhile the proportion of Hispanics on The Row (57) is rising rampantly.

 

Things being the way they are, criminal number 401 will also be black. Twenty-seven-year-old Droyce Mosley was condemned for the murder of four of his white countrymen  at a bar in Kilgore, Texas. Mosley grew up in one of the poorest neighborhoods in the town, and in the absence of his drug-addicted mother and father, he cared for his brothers since he was eight. He was the only black student in his class to graduate and he never had trouble with the law until the shooting.

 

Mosley has admitted that he went to the aforementioned bar with his uncle Ray Don, who has a long criminal record, but he maintains even today that it wasn’t he who did the shooting. His “confession,” he alleges, came during a moment of weakness following a 16-hour interrogation at the police station. He was 19-years-old at the time.

 

The campaign to try and save Mosley - and Amador and Foster (founder of a non-violent group DRIVE, or the Death Row Inter-Communalist Vanguard Engagement) has begun, but without much hope. Texas wants to finish this week with a dead number 403 and close the year with 30 executions, accounting for half of all those in the United States.

 

[Editor's Note: John Ray Conner - 'number 400' - was put to death on August 23. DaRoyce Mosley, - number 401 - and John Joe Amador - number 402 - were executed on Aug. 29. Kenneth Foster, who had been convicted under Texas' controversial 'law of parties' - meaning he never killed anyone - had his sentence commuted to life in prison].

 

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Texas Governor Rick Perry has bluntly rejected an appeal from the European Union to impose a moratorium on the death penalty, and pleas from home and abroad to stop a number of upcoming executions.



Johnny Ray Conner, executed August 23.





DaRoyce Mosley, executed August 29.


John Joe Amador, executed five hours after Mosley on August 29.





Kenneth Foster, Jr.: The lone survivor of the above group, Foster had his sentence commutted to life in prison, hours before an execution that had drawn international attention.


The death chamber at the Texas Department of Criminal Justicein Huntsville, Texas.