executions | KERA News


Michael Graczyk / AP

In nearly 46 years of reporting for The Associated Press, Mike Graczyk has seen at least 429 Texans go to their deaths in Huntsville.

That's almost a third of all the inmates executed in the United States since the Supreme Court reaffirmed capital punishment in 1976.

From Texas Standard.

Texas has been fighting to keep a secret for years now – the name of the pharmacy that supplies its execution drugs. But late last week, after a lengthy court battle, the state Supreme Court refused to grant an appeal of a lower court ruling that the state must reveal where it gets these drugs.

Shelby Knowles

Anthony Graves spent 12 years on death row before a conservative federal court tossed out his wrongful capital murder conviction. Texas courts had previously rejected all of his appeals.

“I had to get out of the state of Texas and into the federal court system to get help,” he told The Texas Tribune on Friday. “If it was up to the state itself, I would have been executed.”

From Texas Standard.

Texas is re-upping a request to “opt in” to a federal law that would speed up the execution appeals process in the state, potentially leading to quicker executions.

From Texas Standard.

Thomas Bartlett Whitaker wasn’t supposed to be alive now. He was scheduled to be the fourth person executed in Texas this year, sentenced to death for coordinating the 2003 Sugar Land murders of his mom and brother and the attempted murder of his dad. He wanted the insurance money.

TDCJ/Texas Tribune

More than 10 years had passed and nearly 150 people had been executed since a Texas governor last spared an inmate from a death sentence.

From Texas Standard:

Following the execution of a Dallas man last week, the status of the state's supply of execution drugs is under new scrutiny. In a last-minute appeal to halt the execution, the prisoner's attorneys claimed two other executions this year were botched. The appeal was denied.

Dallas County Court files

Despite a last-ditch effort to stop his execution, John Battaglia was put to death Thursday night after hours of delay.

Public radio stations from across the state collaborated on this series looking at the death penalty in Texas – its history, how it has changed, whom it affects and its future. 

Texas Executes Dallas Man Convicted In Double Murder

Jan 26, 2017
Jolie McCullough / Texas Tribune

After a nearly four-hour delay while waiting on final appeals in the U.S. Supreme Court, Terry Edwards was executed Thursday night for a robbery turned murder he claimed he did not commit.


Update: After a nearly four-hour delay while waiting on final appeals in the U.S. Supreme Court, Terry Edwards was executed Thursday night

Anthony Graves Foundation

Public radio stations from across the state collaborated on this series looking at the death penalty in Texas – its history, how it’s changed, whom it affects and its future. 

Texas executed Terry Edwards on Thursday evening, making him the second man to be put to death by the state this year. In Texas, more than 240 people sit on death row awaiting execution. Long the leading executioner in the U.S., the Lone Star State put to death fewer people last year than it has in two decades. 

Public radio stations from across the state collaborated on this series looking at the death penalty in Texas – its history, how it’s changed, whom it affects and its future. The following story is from Texas Public Radio:

When you hear about the death penalty in Texas, the discussion often focuses on criminal proceedings or policy. Often overlooked – how the death penalty affects victim’s families – the people left struggling to find healing in the wake of violent crimes.

Public radio stations from across the state collaborated on this series looking at the death penalty in Texas – its history, how it’s changed, whom it affects and its future. From Texas Standard:

Death row inmates often spend decades between the day they're sentenced and the day they're executed. That can be due to many factors – from lengthy appeals to the state being unable to get the drugs it needs to carry out executions.

Graphic by Todd Wiseman

Texas — the state that has executed the most people by far since the death penalty was reinstated in the United States 40 years ago — had the nation's second-busiest death chamber this year for the first time since 2001. Georgia’s nine executions in 2016 surpassed the Lone Star State’s record-low number of seven.

Texas Will See Lowest Number Of Executions In 20 Years

Oct 11, 2016
The Texas Tribune

For the first time in 20 years, the number of Texas executions will fall out of double digits this year.

Update: Court Stops Execution Of Former Dallas Accountant Who Killed His Daughters

Mar 30, 2016
Dallas County court files/Texas Tribune

Update, 11:23 a.m. from Associated Press: A federal appeals court has stopped the scheduled lethal injection of a former Dallas accountant set to die for gunning down his two young daughters in 2001 while his ex-wife - their mother - was listening helplessly on the phone.

Texas Poised To See New Low In Death Sentences

Oct 22, 2015
Texas Tribune

Texas is on track to see fewer death sentences handed down in 2015 than in any other year since the state’s death penalty was reinstated in 1976.

From Texas Standard:

There is an execution scheduled for Wednesday in Oklahoma – but Texas is tied to the case.

According to a court filing, the lawyer for an Oklahoma death row inmate is claiming that his client shouldn't have to use an alternative to pentobarbital, one of the chemicals in the lethal injection cocktail. The filing argues that Texas is compounding its own pentobarbital and has sold the lethal injection drug to at least one other death penalty state: Virginia.


The Supreme Court has upheld the use of a controversial drug that has been implicated in several botched executions.

First Texas Execution Of 2015 Carried Out

Jan 22, 2015
Texas Tribune

A New Mexico man convicted for a drug-fueled triple murder in San Antonio in 1993 was executed on Wednesday, the first Texas inmate put to death under Gov. Greg Abbott, who was sworn into office on Tuesday.

Texas Tribune/TDCJ

Five stories that have North Texas talking: a death row inmate's execution has been halted; Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings will run for re-election; the fight between Dallas chefs and a restaurant critic gets national publicity; and more. 

Texas Tribune

Update, 7:05 p.m. Wednesday: An Arlington woman was executed  Wednesday night for the murder of her girlfriend’s young son. 

Update at 4:57 p.m. ET. Federal Court Halts Execution:

With just hours to go, a federal court has halted the execution of Texas inmate Robert Campbell.

The execution would have been the first since Oklahoma botched one in April.

The ruling has nothing to do with the drug shortage that's dominated the narrative over the death penalty in the country. Instead, Campbell's lawyers argued that the state knew that Campbell was intellectually disabled but did not let his defense team know that.

Doualy Xaykaothao / KERA News

Texas plans to execute its next death row inmate on May 13 despite a controversial botched execution in Oklahoma using a three-drug cocktail. SMU criminal law professor Meghan Ryan sat down with KERA to discuss why Texas uses a single lethal dose of pentobarbital, but reportedly stocks midazolam, one of the drugs used in Oklahoma. 

Phatthanun/Shutterstock / shutterstock.com/gallery-813436p1.html

The drug used in Tuesday night’s botched execution in Oklahoma – midazolam – is stored by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice and can be used at any time in the state's death penalty protocol, raising concerns among defense lawyers and others about the state’s secretive lethal injection process.

Documents obtained by defense attorneys and shared with The Texas Tribune show that TDCJ obtained midazolam last June, has approximately 30 vials of the drug and the expiration date for them is 2015.

Oklahoma authorities quickly shielded reporters attending the Tuesday night execution of Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett — the first of two scheduled executions there that night; the second was stayed — after the inmate was given the drug midazolam, the first of a new three-drug execution cocktail used in that state.

Update at 8:19 p.m. ET. Execution Fails:

According to reporters tweeting from inside the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Oklahoma, the execution of Clayton D. Lockett has failed. Lockett died of a heart attack after the execution was aborted.

The execution of Charles Warner, which was supposed to take place at 9 p.m. ET., was stayed by Corrections Director Robert Patton.

According to the AP reporter on the scene, about 34 minutes after the execution was scheduled to begin, Lockett was still conscious.


A state judge has ordered the Texas prison agency to disclose to attorneys for two inmates its supplier of a new batch of execution drugs.
The ruling Thursday in Austin comes one day after attorneys for two death row inmates filed a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice seeking the information. Texas prison officials say they will appeal the ruling.

Texas Finds New Drug Supply For Executions

Mar 19, 2014

Texas has obtained a new batch of the drugs it uses to execute death row inmates, allowing the state to continue carrying out death sentences once its existing supply expires at the end of the month.

But correction officials will not say where they bought the drugs, arguing that information must be kept secret to protect the safety of its new supplier. In interviews with The Associated Press, officials with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice also refused to say whether providing anonymity to its new supplier of the sedative pentobarbital was a condition of its purchase.

rp4prez2008 / (cc) flickr

Dallas County is reporting another death from West Nile Virus, the seventh this season.