Kaufman County Death Warrant

Yesterday I caught the last half of a death warrant hearing. This was the first case set for a death warrant in Kaufman County since the Supreme Court ruled that lethal injection was not cruel or unusual punishment.

What is a death warrant? In Texas, when a defendant who has been sentenced to death has exhausted his appeals the court may set an execution date. The date is up to the judge, however,Texas law requires that no convict be executed until after 6pm.

I had some other cases set that morning. I came in about 15 minutes late to the death warrant hearing. I walked in as the judge was reciting the procedural history of the case, the dates of the trial, the sentence, etc. The judge then ordered that on September 17th the defendant be injected with various substances until he died. The judge ended with “May God be with you”.

That was it. The defense attorney walked over to the woman in front of me who was crying. It may have been a relative of the defendant. I can only speculate.

The victim in this case was 93 year old Rena Ratcliff. The man sentenced to die for her rape and murder was William Murrary. . I have no first hand knowledge of the facts in this case. I have heard Mr. Murrary confessed to this horrible crime and that guilt was not really an issue.

On the death penalty

I have not blogged much about the death penalty. I have never worked on a death penalty case and I may never take one. My beliefs on capital punishment?

I believe killing innocent people is wrong. Our legal system is not capable of accurately sentencing people to death. The government is not capable of screening death penalty cases for innocence. Capital defense is adequately not funded. Finally, government actors are routinely corrupt or incopmetent. Therefore, I believe all executions should be halted.

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