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March 1, 2012

Two executions in two states close out February

The US death penalty took full advantage of the extra day of February as reported in this Reuters article, headlined "Arizona and Texas carry out executions":

A Texas man who confessed to being the ringleader of a ruthless band of murderers was executed by lethal injection on Wednesday, hours after an Arizona man convicted of strangling and stabbing his adoptive mother was put to death.

George Rivas, 41, was executed at a prison unit in Huntsville, Texas, for his role in the murder of police officer Aubrey Hawkins outside an Oshman's Superstore on Christmas Eve 2000 in Irving, next to Dallas.   Earlier in the day in Arizona, Robert Henry Moormann, 63, died at 10:33 a.m. local time at the state prison complex in Florence, about 60 miles southeast of Phoenix, state officials said.

Rivas was the confessed ringleader of a group that came to be known as the "Texas Seven," a band of convicted robbers, rapists, and murderers that broke out of a maximum security prison in Karnes County about an hour southeast of San Antonio on December 13, 2000.  Before he escaped, Rivas had been serving 17 life sentences for several crimes, including aggravated kidnapping, according to the Texas Attorney General's office....

Rivas was the second person executed this year in Texas, which executed 13 people in 2011 and has put to death more than four times as many people as any other state since the United States reinstated the death penalty in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

In Arizona, Moormann was serving a sentence of nine years to life at the Florence prison for kidnapping an 8-year-old girl when he was given a compassionate three-day furlough in January 1984 to visit with his mother.  Authorities said Moormann bound and gagged the 74-year-old woman at the motel where she was staying, before he strangled and stabbed her.  He later chopped her body up and disposed of the parts in dumpsters throughout Florence....

In a flurry of last-minute appeals, defense attorneys sought to block the execution by claiming that the convicted murderer was mentally retarded and cannot legally be put to death.  Attorneys also objected to the state changing the drugs it uses for the execution, challenging the decision to switch to one drug from a three-drug protocol.  The state Department of Corrections on Monday informed the Arizona Supreme Court of the change.

March 1, 2012 at 09:28 AM | Permalink

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Comments

Simply to read the short and antisceptic, but still mind-bending, summaries of what Moormann and Rivas did is to understand why abolitionism is a non-starter in this country.

The idea that yet another prison sentence would be proportionate justice in either case is beyond preposterous.

Somehow I think the abolitionist side is going to hunker down on this one, rather than argue about it. Of course that assumes our abolitionist commenters will view "argument" as being something more than calling me, Kent, federalist, guest, DaveP, etc., thugs, criminals and "stark raving mad," but that would be an optimistic assumption.

It takes a turn of mind that's truly hard to understand to view retentionists as more despicable than the Moormann's and Rivas's of this world, but that's what it's come to in the comments section.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 1, 2012 12:17:10 PM

Bill Otis

Moormann was able to get 1 member of the Arizona Parole Board to recommend clemency to the Governor. The DP was made for people like him.

Posted by: DaveP | Mar 1, 2012 12:54:54 PM

DaveP --

If you have a link to the statement by the Parole Board member you mention, please put it up. This is going to be too good to be true.

Posted by: Bill Otis | Mar 1, 2012 12:59:34 PM

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In the body of your email, please indicate if you are a professor, student, prosecutor, defense attorney, etc. so I can gain a sense of who is reading my blog. Thank you, DAB