Death Row | Texas Public Radio

Death Row

Death Row inmate Larry Swearingen in the Polunsky Unit prison in Livingston Texas
David Martin Davies

On Wednesday, August 21, the State of Texas prepared to execute Larry Swearingen. He was convicted of the abduction, rape and murder of Melissa Trotter, a 19-year-old college student in Montgomery County.


The Walls Unit in Huntsville where death row inmates are executed.
Jack Morgan | Texas Public Radio

Texas death row inmate Larry Swearingen was executed Wednesday evening for the 1998 murder of Melissa Trotter. She was a 19-year-old student at Lone Star College on the Montgomery County campus.

David Martin Davies | Texas Public Radio

When the state of Texas tried to execute Patrick Murphy on March 28, the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in. The high court ruled that the execution was unconstitutional. But it wasn't because of any concerns about due process or the morality of the state taking a life. The issue was religious freedom.

David Martin Davies | Texas Public Radio

Patrick Murphy was ready to die on March 28, and the State of Texas was ready to kill him. It was the U.S. Supreme Court that stepped in and granted the surprise execution stay. That’s why Murphy is alive today.

Up until January, Elsa Alcala had one of nine seats on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. She was a judge on the state’s highest court that handles criminal cases. That includes ruling on all death penalty cases.

But while on the bench, Judge Alcala saw problems with the legal process with capital punishment and she began to lose faith in how some people were being sent to the Texas death chamber.

Alcala became a loudest voice on the state’s most prominent criminal court pointing out the unreliability of the death penalty.

Portland Police Bureau

A man who was executed in Texas 20 years ago for killing a woman in Tyler is now on the hook for another murder from forty years ago. He almost got away with it, but DNA and genealogy teamed up to help police close the case.

Jack Morgan / Texas Public Radio

Joseph Garcia sits on Texas' death row after he was convicted of the murder of Irving Police Officer Aubrey Hawkins.

On this episode of "Texas Matters," we talk to Garcia at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Livingston, just outside of Huntsville, where he is scheduled to be executed on Dec. 4. We also talk to Jeff Spivey, chief of the Irving Police Department, in remembrance of Hawkins.


Courtesy Beacon Press

Twenty-six years ago, Anthony Graves was arrested for multiple homicides he did not commit.

There was no physical evidence linking Graves to the crimes, but it took almost two decades to prove his innocence. 

Ken Piorkowski / Wikimedia Commons | http://bit.ly/2zXBhaP

This week on "Texas Matters," we look at the death penalty.

Texas has executed 553 prisoners since capital punishment resumed in 1976, which is more than any other state. Over 11 years, Michelle Lyons watched 278 men and women take their last breath at the hands of the state.

Lyons joins us to discuss her experiences witnessing executions first as a newspaper reporter and then working for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in the book, “Death Row: The Final Minutes.”


From Texas Standard.

Danny Bible is scheduled to die on June 27. He was sentenced to death in 2003 for murdering Houston resident Inez Deaton in 1979. Bible’s attorney, Jeremy Schepers, recently filed a lawsuit alleging that a lethal injection would almost certainly constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Schepers is a federal public defender in the Northern District of Texas.

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