May 24, 2012
The Columbia Human Rights Law Review opened up a new can of worms on the death penalty in Texas this week with its book-length examination of the 1989 execution of Carlos DeLuna.
The bottom line, according to the report, is that the state executed the wrong man for the stabbing death of 24-year-old Wanda Lopez in a Corpus Christi convenience store. Researchers say prosecutors bypassed another person who bragged of killing Lopez.
On the heels of that report, death penalty abolitionist Rick Halperin, a professor at Southern Methodist University, told the website Dallas South News he would be on the courthouse steps in Dallas on Friday to lean on Dallas County District Attorney Craig Watkins to stop seeking lethal injection in capital cases.
Asked Thursday whether Watkins had read the Columbia report and, if so, would alter his stance on the death penalty, spokeswoman Jamille Bradfield released this terse statement: “We are declining comment.”
As The Dallas Morning News has reported many times, Watkins’ view on capital punishment swings like a pendulum. When first taking office in 2007, Watkins declared that he personally opposed the death penalty on moral and religious grounds.
Recently, he revealed that his own great-grandfather had been executed by the state and said the state needed to look into reforms. Here’s a look at Watkins’ evolving view on the issue as reflected through recent years in The News....