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June 15, 2010

Texas finally executes murderer who had looooong stay on death row

As detailed in this AFP report, which is headlined "Texas executes convicted cop killer 32 years on," the busiest death penalty state finally executed a defendant for a cop killer who committed him crime during the Carter Administration. Here are the details:

The state of Texas on Tuesday executed David Powell, 59, for the murder of a police officer 32 years ago, after having lost a series of lengthy appeals and requests for clemency.

Powell was convicted and sentenced to death for the May 18, 1978 machine-gun murder of police officer Ralph Ablanedo, who stopped him on a traffic offense.

With the execution, Powell set a record for the longest period on death row in the state before being put to death, circumstances which had earned him support for clemency. He also elicited wide support for becoming what some called a model prisoner and for his expressions of remorse for his crime.

Powell was a drug addict in 1978 when his car was stopped for a traffic violation by Ablanedo, then 26. The officer was hit several times by shots from a Russian-made AK-47 but managed to radio for help and describe his assailant before he died.

Powell was convicted and sentenced to death later that year. The verdict was overturned on appeal, but he was convicted at a retrial in 1991 and re-sentenced to death. That trial was voided as well on appeal, resulting in a third trial that reaffirmed the penalty.

But supporters said that Powell's 32 years on death row have proved the power of human redemption. Amnesty International is one of many advocate groups that pleaded his case, saying in a report that over time, Powell has become "a model prisoner and an extraordinary human being."

"The traditional justification for the death penalty (is) retribution and deterrence," Amnesty said. "It is hard to imagine what further deterrence would be achieved by an execution 32 years after" the crime....

Powell's tenure on death row was among the longest ahead of an execution in the United States. Alabama earlier this year executed Thomas Whisenhant after 32 years on death row while Georgia in 2008 put to death Jack Alderman after 33 years.

June 15, 2010 at 09:55 PM | Permalink


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Lawyers did very well in this case.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 16, 2010 7:11:28 AM

Interesting that Texas lost a lengthy series of appeals yet was still able to execute the prisoner. Or perhaps there was an editor asleep at the wheel with regard to that first sentence.

SC, I assume you are referring sarcastically to the performance of the state's lawyers, since they were the ones responsible for f---ing up two capital trials. If the State of Texas hadn't been so abysmally bad at providing a fair, constitutional process for determining guilt and punishment, the whole thing would have gone a lot quicker.

Posted by: Anon | Jun 16, 2010 10:47:42 AM

Anon: Are saying there is some possibility the verdicts may have been mistaken the first two rounds, rather than a procedure was not followed to the letter so we have to have a do over?

The passage of time is a great advantage to the defendant, due to the rapid deterioration of evidence. The fact that the guilty verdict persisted indicates the reliability and validity of the original decision. Several unrelated juries and judges came to the same conclusion. That is a good scientific validation of the first verdict.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | Jun 16, 2010 3:19:34 PM

Well, this inmate just went through two extreme punishments, life imprisonment and execution.

Posted by: Dominic Chan | Jun 17, 2010 12:56:56 AM

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