The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Wednesday voted to recommend to Governor Rick Perry that the death sentence of Robert Thompson be commuted to life. Thompson's execution is scheduled for today, Thursday, November 19. Governor Perry will be deciding this morning whether to accept the recommendation and grant clemency to Thompson. Perry could accept or reject the recommendation from the BPP. Perry appointed all the members of the BPP.
Call Governor Perry and leave a voice message at 512 463 1782 or email him through his website at http://governor.state.tx.us/.... Urge him to accept the recommendation of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to grant Robert Thompson clemency and commute his sentence to life.
Several hundred people on the Texas Moratorium Network email list have already emailed the Governor urging him to accept the recommendation of the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute the death sentence of Robert Thompson to life. The BPP voted 5-2 for clemency. Now it is in Perry's hands. I don't know how many people called instead of emailed, but I expect a bunch called too. Please call now at 512 463 1782. You can call at any time of the night, you will be connected to a voice mail system. They keep a tally and will report it to the governor. Perry will decide in the morning if Thompson will live or die.
Thompson was sentenced to death under the Law of Parties even though he did not kill the victim. Thompson's accomplice fired the bullet that killed the victim. The accomplice received life in prison.
During the 2009 session of the Texas Legislature, the Texas House of Representatives passed a bill that would have banned executions of people convicted solely under the Law of Parties for people who do not actually kill anyone. The bill died in the Senate, but its passage in the House showed that many legislators want Texas to stop executing people convicted under the Law of Parties.
If Thompson's sentence is commuted to life, then other people sentenced to death under the Law of Parties stand a better chance of having their death sentences commuted in the future, including Jeff Wood.
From the Houston Chronicle:
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, in a highly unusual vote, recommended a convicted murderer set to die Thursday for his part in the fatal shooting of Houston convenience store clerk have his sentence commuted to life in prison.
The board's action Wednesday, on a 5-2 vote, leaves the decision on whether Robert Lee Thompson lives or dies with Gov. Rick Perry.
Thompson, 34, was condemned under the Texas law of parties for being an accomplice when Mansoor Bhai Rahim Mohammed, 29, was gunned down 13 years ago.
Thompson's partner, Sammy Butler, received a life prison term. Thompson got death.
At least a half dozen other Texas inmates have been executed under the law of parties.
Under the law, offenders conspiring to commit one felony like robbery can all be held responsible for another ensuing crime, like murder.
The U.S. Supreme Court since 1982 has barred the death penalty for co-conspirators who don't themselves kill. The justices, however, in 1987 made an exception, ruling the Eighth Amendment didn't prohibit execution of someone who plays a major role in a felony that results in murder and whose mental state is one of reckless indifference.
To stay current on developments in the fight against the Texas death penalty, please join Texas Moratorium Network's page on Facebook.