Thursday, July 24, 2008

Living Through the Death Penalty

We will never know how many of the over 1,000 people executed since 1976 may have been innocent. Errors in the criminal justice system occur, and occur frequently. Once the state executes someone it does not look back even when evidence of the executed person's innocence comes to light. Understandably, defense attorneys need all the time they can get to defend the living.

Reverend Carroll Pickett, author of the acclaimed memoir, Within These Walls: Memoirs of a Death House Chaplain, spent fifteen years as the "death house" chaplain at "The Walls," the Huntsville unit of the Texas prison system. He ministered to 95 men before they were put to death by lethal injection, including the first man ever to be executed by lethal injection. He told them not to fight once the call came through denying the inmate clemency. Fighting makes the deathing process more painful. Following each execution, Rev. Pickett made a cassette recording.

At the Death House Door, a documentary from Steve James and Peter Gilbert is a personal and intimate look at the death penalty in the state of Texas through the eyes of Reverend Pickett. The film has had an award-winning run on the national film festival circuit and premiering on IFC, May 29th, 2008.

The film also focuses on the story of Carlos De Luna, a convict Pickett counseled and whose execution troubled Pickett more than any other. He firmly believed De Luna was innocent, and the film tracks the investigative efforts of a team of Chicago Tribune reporters who have turned up evidence that strongly suggests he was.

After years of failed appeals, De Luna lost his final bid for clemency on Dec. 6, 1989.

By then, prison guards had moved him to the holding cell just steps from the execution chamber in Huntsville. It was there that he met death-house chaplain Carroll Pickett. A Presbyterian minister, Pickett had counseled 32 other prisoners in the seven years since Texas resumed executions in 1982.

As he had with each prisoner, Pickett explained to De Luna every detail of what would take place in the coming hours: how the warden would come and say it was time to go; how there were eight steps from the holding cell to the door of the execution chamber, five more to the gurney; how guards would strap him down; and then, finally, how the warden would remove his glasses to signal for the flow of lethal chemicals to begin.

De Luna's only question for Pickett was whether it would hurt when the needles were inserted in his arm.

Later that day, De Luna, the youngest of nine children, visited with family members--his sister Rose, her fiance, a half brother and his wife.

Shortly before 5 p.m., the U.S. Supreme Court turned down his appeal. De Luna showered and donned dark blue pants and a light blue shirt.

Increasingly anxious, he asked Pickett if he could call him daddy. "I never had a daddy," Pickett said De Luna told him. "You are like my daddy should have been."

About 7 p.m., after the governor denied De Luna's clemency request, Pickett talked to him about the crime. In ministering to condemned prisoners, Pickett had learned that, in their last hours, most inmates, even those who would claim innocence in a final statement, would confide their guilt to him.

"I'm the last person they're going to talk to," Pickett said in an interview, "so they feel they can finally talk about it."

De Luna told him he was innocent.

Shortly before 10 p.m., De Luna asked to make a call to a former Corpus Christi TV reporter who had covered the trial and kept in touch in the years afterward.

"We both knew there was no hope at that point," the reporter, Karen Boudrie, said. "I asked him point-blank: Is there anything you want to get off your chest?

"He said, `I'm not the bad guy they say I am,'" she recalled. "He said, `I didn't do it.'"

Around 11 p.m., De Luna looked at Pickett and said, "Let's get serious."

They grasped hands through the cell bars, and De Luna asked Pickett to pray that he would be strong in his last minutes and that he would be quickly received into heaven.

When they began, Pickett noticed, De Luna was sitting on the side of the bunk; by the end, he had dropped to his knees on the cell's cold concrete floor.

"A little after 12, the signal came. I stepped back," Pickett recalls in a recording he made shortly after the execution. "The doors opened. I walked into the death chamber, the death house itself. Carlos followed behind me."

De Luna climbed onto the gurney. "As he laid down, he said, `Are you here, chaplain?' I had assured him I would be. He asked me to hold his hand. . . . I told him he had done fine," Pickett says on the tape. "And he said, `This is not so bad.'"

After the witnesses to the execution filed in, the warden asked: "Carlos De Luna, do you have any last words?" De Luna made no reference to the slaying of Wanda Lopez. "I want to say that I don't hold any grudges," he said as part of his short final statement.

At that, the warden removed his glasses.

"After about 10 seconds, [De Luna] raised up his head and looked at me with those big brown eyes," Pickett says on the tape. "The warden looked at me, and I looked at him. He was concerned. I was concerned. Something was not going right. Because he should have been asleep.

"After about 10 seconds more, he raised his head up again. He looked square in my face and my eyes. I just simply squeezed his leg. I don't know what he was trying to say. I wish I did.

"This bothers me and probably will forever and ever. Because nothing was happening. I had told him, I had promised him it wouldn't hurt, it wouldn't take long. Now we were more than 25 seconds into it, and he was still able to raise his head up and look. I was sickened."

Pickett looked at the tube running into De Luna's veins. He could see the bubbles indicating where each chemical ended and the next began.

More than 9 minutes passed.

"He gave a couple of exhales, and that was it." At that, the doctors came in and declared De Luna dead. It was 12:24 a.m.

"The first injection began at 12:14," Pickett spoke into the tape recorder later. "This was 10 minutes. Too long. Way. Too. Long."

Partly as a result of watching De Luna's execution, Pickett eventually became an activist against the death penalty.

"This one I wonder: What was he trying to tell me, if anything, when he raised up his head? ... What did he say? What did he think?

"Whatever," Pickett added, "Carlos De Luna did not need those extra minutes and certainly not those extra 25 seconds. That I will never forget."
Rev. Pickett is today an outspoken anti-death penalty activist. He is retired from the Department of Corrections but still preaches near Huntsville, Texas.

We will never know how many innocent people lost their lives to state sanctioned premeditated murder, however it's fairly obvious our system of justice chooses to disregard the benchmark established long ago by the Supreme Court, "The evolving standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing society."

Execution Vigil/Protest Sites in Texas.


LEJ Foundation - The LEJ foundation was created in 2008 to expose unlawful executions. The inspiration for the foundation came from the unjust execution by the State of Texas of Lonnie Earl Johnson, which took place on July 24, 2007.

4 comments:

dudleysharp 07:58  

Can Rev. Carroll Pickett be trusted "At the Death House Door"?
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below

Rev. Pickett is on a promotional tour for the anti death penalty film "At the Death House Door". It is partially about the Reverend's experience ministering to 95 death row inmates executed in Texas.

Rev. Pickett's inaccuracies are many and important.

Does Rev. Pickett just make facts up as he goes along, hoping that no one fact checks, or is he just confused or ignorant?

Some of his miscues are common anti death penalty deceptions. The reverend is an anti death penalty activist.

Below are comments or paraphrases of Rev. Pickett, taken from interviews, followed by my Reply:.

1) Pickett: I knew (executed inmate) Carlos (De Luna) didn't do it. It was his big brown eyes, the way he talked, he was the same age as my son (transference). I felt so sympathetic towards him. I was so 100% certain that he couldn't have committed this crime. (Carlos) was a super person to minister to. I knew Carlos was not guilty. Fred Allen a guard, said "by the way he talks and acts I don't believe he is guilty, either. (1)

REPLY: Experienced prison personnel are fooled all the time by prisoners, just as parole boards are. This is simply Rev. Pickett's and Fred Allen's blind speculation and nothing more.

More than that, it appears that Rev. Pickett is, now, either lying about his own opinions or he is very confused. Read on.

2) Pickett: believes that, no way, could someone, so afraid of lightning and thunder, such as Carlos De Luna, use a knife (in a crime). (1)

Reply: Rev. Pickett talks about how important his background is in understanding people and behavior and he says something like this, destroying his own credibility on the issue. If the lightning and thunder event occurred, we already know what De Luna was capable of. In 1980, "De Luna was charged with attempted aggravated rape and driving a stolen vehicle, he pleaded no contest and was sentenced to 2 to 3 years. Paroled in May 1982, De Luna returned to Corpus Christi. Not long after, he attended a party for a former cellmate and was accused of attacking the cellmate's 53-year-old mother. She told police that De Luna broke three of her ribs with one punch, removed her underwear, pulled down his pants, then suddenly left. He was never prosecuted for the attack, but authorities sent him back to prison on a parole violation. Released again in December of that year, he came back to Corpus Christi and got a job as a concrete worker. Almost immediately, he was arrested for public intoxication. During the arrest, De Luna allegedly laughed about the wounding of a police officer months earlier and said the officer should have been killed. Two weeks after that arrest, Lopez was murdered." (Chicago Tribune) Being a long time criminal, we can presume that there were numerous additional crimes committed by De Luna and which remained unsolved. Was De Luna capable of committing a robbery murder, even though he had big brown eyes and was scared of lightning? Of course. This goes to Rev. Pickett's poor judgement or something else.

There is this major problem.

In 1999, 4 years after Rev. Pickett had left his death row ministry, and he had become an anti death penalty activist, and 10 years after De Luna's execution, the reverend was asked, in a PBS Frontline interview, "Do you think there have been some you have watched die who were strictly innocent?"

His reply: "I never felt that." (3)

For many years, and since the 1989 execution of Carlos De Luna, the reverend never felt that any of the 95 executed were actually innocent.

This directly conflicts with his current statements on Carlos De Luna. Rev. Pickett is, now, saying that he was 100% sure of De Luna's innocence in 1989!

If he was 100% sure of DeLuna's execution in 1989, what's up with the PBS interview?.

How is it that an anti death penalty activist can forget the only "innocent" person executed - he was 100% sure of his innocence - on their watch? Anti death penalty or pro death penalty, wouldn't that be 100% impossible to forget, particularly when you are asked, specifically, about it during a formal interview?

When is the first confirmable date that Rev. Pickett stated he believed in DeLunas' actual innocence?

It appears the reverend has either revised history to support his new anti death penalty activism - he's lying - or he is, again, very confused. Reverend?

3) Introduction: In 1974, prison librarian Judy Standley and teacher Von Beseda were murdered during an 11 day prison siege and escape attempt. Ignacio Cuevas was sentenced to death, as one of three prisoners who were involved. The other two died in the shootout.

Ms. Standley and Ms. Beseda were part of Rev. Pickett's congregation, outside of prison.

Pickett: After Cuevas was executed, Rev. Pickett alleges that he met with Judy Standley's family and they told the reverend that "This (the execution) didn't bring closure." "This didn't help us." According to Rev. Pickett, "They didn't want him (Ignacio Cuevas) executed." (1)

Reply; There might be a big problem. Judy Standley's five children wrote a statement, before the execution, which stated: "We are relieved the ordeal may almost be over, but we are also aware that to some, this case represents only one of many in which, arguably, `justice delayed is justice denied," "We are hopeful the sentence will finally be carried out and that justice will at last be served," said the statement, signed by Ty, Dru, Mark, Pam and Stuart Standley. (4)

Sure seemed like the kids wanted Cuevas to be executed. Doesn't it? Reverend?

4) Pickett: "A great majority of them (the 95 executed inmates he ministered to) were black or Hispanic." (1)

Reply: The reverend's point, here, appears to emphasize the alleged racist nature of the death penalty. There is a problem for the reverend - the facts - the "great majority" were 47 white (49%) with 32 black (34%), and 16 Hispanic (17%).

5) Pickett: "Out of the 95 we executed only one that had a college degree. All the rest of them their education was 9th grade and under." (1)

Reply: Not even close. Rev. Pickett's point, here, seems to be that capital murderers are, almost all, idiots who can't be held responsible for their actions. But, there are more fact problems for the reverend. In a review of only 31 of the 95 cases, 5 had some college or post graduate classes and 16 were high school graduates or completed their GED. Partial review (Incomplete Count) , below.

Would Rev. Pickett tell us about the educational achievements of all the true innocent murder victims and those that weren't old enough for school?

6) Pickett: spoke of the Soldier of Fortune murder for hire case, stating the husband got the death penalty, while the hired murderer got 6 years. (1)

Reply: Rev. Pickett's point, here, appears to be the unfairness of the sentence disparity. More fact problems. John Wayne Hearn, the hitman, was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of Sandra Black.

7) Pickett: speaks of how sincere hostage taker, murderer Ignacio Cuevas was. Rev. Pickett states that "between 11 and midnight (I) believe almost everything" the inmates say, because they are about to be executed. (1)

Reply: Bad judgement. Minutes later, Cuevas lied when on the gurney, stating that he was innocent. This goes to show how Rev. Pickett and many others are easily fooled by these murderers. Pickett concedes the point.

8) Pickett: "In my opinion and in the opinion of the convicts, life in prison, with no hope of parole, is a much worse punishment (than the death penalty)." "Most of these people (death row inmates) fear life in prison more than they do the possibility of execution." (2)

REPLY: More fact problems. We know that isn't the opinion of those facing a possible death sentence of those residing on death row. This gives more support to my suspicion that Rev. Pickett is putting words into the inmates' mouths.

Facts: What percentage of capital murderers seek a plea bargain to a death sentence, rather than seeking a life sentence? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment. What percentage of convicted capital murderers argue for execution in the penalty phase of their capital trial? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment. What percentage of death row inmates waive their appeals and speed up the execution process? Nearly zero (less than 2%). They prefer long term imprisonment. This is not, even remotely, in dispute. How could Rev. Pickett not be aware of this? How long was he ministering to Texas' death row? 13 years? So, what? Did he just make this up?


9) Pickett: stated that "doctors can't (check the veins of inmates pending execution), it's against the law." (1)

Reply: Ridiculous. Obviously untrue.

10) Pickett: Pavulon (a paralytic) has been banned by vets but we use it on people. (1)

REPLY: This is untrue and is a common anti death penalty deception. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) stetes, "When used alone, these drugs (paralytics) all cause respiratory arrest before loss of consciousness, so the animal may perceive pain and distress after it is immobilized." Obviously, paralytics are never used alone in the human lethal injection process or animal euthanasia. The AVMA does not mention the specific paralytic - Pavulon - used in lethal injection for humans. These absurd claims, falsely attributed to veterinary literature, have been a bald faced lie by anti death penalty activists.

In Belgium and the Netherlands, their euthanasia protocol is as follows: A coma is first induced by intravenous administration of 20 mg/kg sodium thiopental (Nesdonal) (NOTE-the first drug in human lethal injection) in a small volume (10 ml physiological saline). Then a triple intravenous dose of a non-depolarizing neuromuscular muscle relaxant is given, such as 20 mg pancuronium bromide (Pavulon) (NOTE-the second drug, the paralytic, in human lethal injection) or 20 mg vecuronium bromide (Norcuron). The muscle relaxant should preferably be given intravenously, in order to ensure optimal availability (NOTE: as in human lethal injection). Only for pancuronium bromide (Pavulon) are there substantial indications that the agent may also be given intramuscularly in a dosage of 40 mg. (NOTE: That is how effective the second drug in human lethal injection is, that it can be given intramuscularly and still hasten death).

Just like execution/lethal injection in the US, although we give a third drug which speeds up death, even more.

11) Pickett: "Most of the inmates would ask the question, "How can Texas kill people who kill people and tell people that killing people is wrong?" That came out of inmates’ mouths regularly and I think it’s a pretty good question to ask." (2)

REPLY: Most? Would that be more than 47 out of 95? I simply don't believe it. 10 out of 95? Doubtful. I suspect it is no coincidence that "Why do we kill people to show that killing is wrong" has been a common anti death penalty slogan for a very long time. I suspect that Rev. Pickett has just picked it up, used it and placed it in inmate's mouths. Furthermore, we don't execute murderers to show that murder is wrong. Most folks know that murder is wrong even without a sanction.

12) Pickett: said an inmate said "its burning" "its burning", during an execution. (1)

REPLY: This may have occurred for a variety of reasons and does not appear to be an issue. It is the third drug which is noted for a burning sensation, if one were conscious during its injection. However, none of the inmates that Rev. Pickett handled were conscious after the first drug was administered. That would not be the case, here, as the burning complaints came at the very beginning of the injection process, which would involve a reaction where the burning would be quite minor. Has Rev. Pickett reviewed the pain and suffering of the real victims - the innocent murdered ones?

Bottom line. Reverend Pickett's credibility is as high as a snakes belly.

Time to edit the movie?!

------------

Incomplete count
this is a review of 31 out of the 95 death row inmates ministered by Rev. Pickett

21 of the 31 below had some college or post graduate classes (5)
or were high school graduates or completed their GED (16)
-----------
1) Brooks 12
3) O'Bryan post graduate degree - dentist
41 james russel 10th
42 G Green sophomore college
45 David Clark 10th and GED
46 Edward Ellis 10th
47 Billy White 10th
48 Justin May 11th
49 Jesus Romero 11th and GED
50 Robert Black, Jr. a pilot (probably beyond 12th)
55. Carlos Santana 11th
57 Darryl Stewart 12th
58 Leonel Herrera 11th and GED
60) Markum Duff Smith Post graduate College
33) Carlos De Luna 9th
95 Ronald Keith Allridge 10th and GED
93 Noble Mays Junior in College
92 Samuel Hawkins 12th
91 Billy Conn Gardner 12th
90 Jeffery Dean Motley 9th
89 Willie Ray Williams 11th
86 Jesse Jacobs 12th
85 Raymond Carl Kinnamon 11th and GED
84 Herman Clark sophomore college
83 Warren Eugene Bridge 11th
82 Walter Key Williams 12th
72 Harold Barnard 12th
73 Freddie Webb 11th and GED
75 Larry Anderson 12th
77 Stephen Nethery 12th
79 Robert Drew 10th

Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail sharpjfa@aol.com, 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas

Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS , VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.

A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.

1) "Chaplain Discusses 'Death House' Ministry", Interview, Legal Affairs, FRESH AIR, NPR, May 19, 2007.

2) THE FAILURE INTERVIEW: REVEREND CARROLL PICKETT—AUTHOR OF "WITHIN THESE WALLS: MEMOIRS OF A DEATH HOUSE CHAPLAIN" Interview, by Kathleen A. Ervin
www(DOT)failuremag.com/arch_history_carroll_pickett_interview.html

3) "The Execution: Interview with Reverend Carroll Pickett", PBS, FRONTLINE, 1999
www(DOT)pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/execution/readings/pickett.html

4) "Appellate court refuses to stay killer's execution", Kathy Fair, HOUSTON CHRONICLE, Section A, Page 1, 2 Star edition, 05/23/1991

dudleysharp 07:59  

The Death Penalty: More Protection for Innocents
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters, contact info below
 
Often, the death penalty dialogue gravitates to the subject of innocents at risk of execution. Seldom is a more common problem reviewed. That is, how innocents are more at risk without the death penalty.
 
Living murderers, in prison, after release or escape or after our failures to incarcerate them, are much more likely to harm and murder, again, than are executed murderers.
 
Although this is, obviously a truism, it is surprising how often  folks overlook the enhanced incapacitation benefits of the death penalty over incarceration.
 
No knowledgeable and honest party questions that the death penalty has the most extensive due process protections in US criminal law.
 
Therefore, actual innocents are more likely to be sentenced to life imprisonment and more likely to die in prison serving under that sentence, that it is that an actual innocent will be executed.
 
That is. logically, conclusive.
 
16 recent studies, inclusive of their defenses, find for death penalty deterrence.
 
A surprise? No.
 
Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.
 
Some believe that all studies with contrary findings negate those 16 studies. They don't. Studies which don't find for deterrence don't say no one is deterred, but that they couldn't measure those deterred.
 
What prospect of a negative outcome doesn't deter some? There isn't one . . . although committed anti death penalty folk may say the death penalty is the only one.
 
However, the premier anti death penalty scholar accepts it as a given that the death penalty is a deterrent, but does not believe it to be a greater deterrent than a life sentence. Yet, the evidence is compelling and un refuted that death is feared more than life.
 
Some death penalty opponents argue against death penalty deterrence, stating that it's a harsher penalty to be locked up without any possibility of getting out.
 
Reality paints a very different picture.
 
What percentage of capital murderers seek a plea bargain to a death sentence? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.
 
What percentage of convicted capital??murderers argue for execution in the penalty phase of their capital trial? Zero or close to it. They prefer long term imprisonment.
 
What percentage of death row inmates waive their appeals and speed up the execution process? Nearly zero. They prefer long term imprisonment.
 
This is not, even remotely, in dispute.
 
Life is preferred over death. Death is feared more than life.
 
Furthermore, history tells us that lifers have many ways to get out: Pardon, commutation, escape, clerical error, change in the law, etc.
 
In choosing to end the death penalty, or in choosing not implement it, some have chosen to spare murderers at the cost of sacrificing more innocent lives.
 
Furthermore, possibly we have sentenced 20-25 actually innocent people to death since 1973, or 0.3% of those so sentenced. Those have all been released upon post conviction review. The anti death penalty claims, that the numbers are significantly higher,are a fraud, easily discoverable by fact checking.
 
6 inmates have been released from death row because of DNA evidence. An additional 9 were released from prison, because of DNA exclusion, who had previously been sentenced to death.
 
The innocents deception of death penalty opponents has been getting exposure for many years. Even the behemoth of anti death penalty newspapers, The New York Times,  has recognized that deception.
 
To be sure, 30 or 40 categorically innocent people have been released from death row . . . (1) This when death penalty opponents were claiming the release of 119 "innocents" from death row. Death penalty opponents never required actual innocence in order for cases to be added to their "exonerated" or "innocents" list. They simply invented their own definitions for exonerated and innocent and deceptively shoe horned large numbers of inmates into those definitions - something easily discovered with fact checking.
 
There is no proof of an innocent executed in the US, at least since 1900.
 
If we accept that the best predictor of future performance is past performance, we can reasonable conclude that the DNA cases will be excluded prior to trial, and that for the next 8000 death sentences, that we will experience a 99.8% accuracy rate in actual guilt convictions. This improved accuracy rate does not include the many additional safeguards that have been added to the system, over and above DNA testing.
 
Of all the government programs in the world, that put innocents at risk, is there one with a safer record and with greater protections than the US death penalty?
 
Unlikely.
 
Full report -All Innocence Issues: The Death Penalty, upon request.
 
Full report - The Death Penalty as a Deterrent, upon request
 
(1) The Death of Innocents: A Reasonable Doubt,
New York Times Book Review, p 29, 1/23/05, Adam Liptak,
national legal correspondent for The NY Times

copyright 2007-2008, Dudley Sharp
Permission for distribution of this document, in whole or in part,  is approved with proper attribution.
 
Dudley Sharp, Justice Matters
e-mail sharpjfa@aol.com 713-622-5491,
Houston, Texas
 
Mr. Sharp has appeared on ABC, BBC, CBS, CNN, C-SPAN, FOX, NBC, NPR, PBS, VOA and many other TV and radio networks, on such programs as Nightline, The News Hour with Jim Lehrer, The O'Reilly Factor, etc., has been quoted in newspapers throughout the world and is a published author.
 
A former opponent of capital punishment, he has written and granted interviews about, testified on and debated the subject of the death penalty, extensively and internationally.
 
Pro death penalty sites 

homicidesurvivors(dot)com/categories/Dudley%20Sharp%20-%20Justice%20Matters.aspx

www(dot)dpinfo.com
www(dot)cjlf.org/deathpenalty/DPinformation.htm
www(dot)clarkprosecutor.org/html/links/dplinks.htm
www(dot)coastda.com/archives.html
www(dot)lexingtonprosecutor.com/death_penalty_debate.htm
www(dot)prodeathpenalty.com
www(dot)yesdeathpenalty.com/deathpenalty_com
yesdeathpenalty.googlepages.com/home2 (Sweden)
www(dot)wesleylowe.com/cp.html

bleute 17:06  

As we all are, Rev. Pickett is biased and does not try to conceal it as he comes right out and says he's an anti-death activist.

Although, it's possible he should have engaged in more fact -checking, he is not claiming to be objective or an expert. As far I can tell, this is a memoir and a a matter of his opinion. However, his opinion should matter because there are not too many people who have witnessed execution in such an intimate manner.

No one will ever know for sure whether De Luna or any of the 95 for that matter are innocent are guilty - enough reason to discontinue the death penalty all by itself - however considering he singled out one person and not twenty, imho, makes him more believable.

Regarding his change of opinion on De Luna, it very well could be that he did change his mind. I know there have been many times where I've changed my mind believing someone to be guilty or innocent at first, but after gathering more information, or deeply reflecting on something, changed my mind.

Pickett is an old man and may not remember every single detail and he does not claim to be an expert.
More than likely he did not have access to every inmate's level of education.

He used to be for the death penalty. His experience changed his mind. There is a lot of evidence supporting moat of what he said in general regarding the use of lethal injection. Not to mention, it's extremely clear that justice is only as good as what you can afford in this country. Pro Bono lawyers have been known to fall asleep, show up intoxicated, lack the experience or are too lazy to do anything but show up to court. In a system like this, the death penalty should never be an option as it will always be disproportionately used on the disenfranchised.

Thank you very much for your comment.

Sam,  19:41  

All people who commit crimes should be put to death. It would save those of us who do not commit crimes a ton of money.

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