« Reviewing data and lessons of recent Urban Institute report on rising prison time | Main | Spotlighting BOP's continued curious failure to make serious use of "compassionate release" »

July 28, 2017

Texas completes second US execution in as many days

On the heals of Ohio on Wednesday completing its first execution in 3.5 years (details here), Texas late Thursday completed its fifth execution of 2017.  This Texas Tribune article provides some details, from which these excerpts are drawn:

After more than 12 years on death row, a San Antonio man convicted in a fatal stabbing was executed Thursday night. It was Texas’ fifth execution of the year. TaiChin Preyor, 46, had filed a flurry of appeals in the weeks leading up to his execution date, claiming his trial lawyer never looked into evidence of an abusive childhood and his previous appellate counsel — a disbarred attorney paired with a real estate and probate lawyer who relied on Wikipedia in her legal research — committed fraud on the court.

But he lost all of the appeals, with the U.S. Supreme Court issuing a final ruling in the case more than two hours after his execution was originally set to begin. At 9:03 p.m., he was injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital in Texas’ death chamber and pronounced dead 19 minutes later, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. In his final words, he mentioned his love for his wife and kids and cited a Coretta Scott King quote, saying, "Justice has never advanced by taking a life," according to TDCJ.

Preyor was accused of breaking into 20-year-old Jami Tackett’s apartment in February 2004 and stabbing her to death. He was found at the scene by police covered in her blood. Preyor claimed the killing was done in self-defense after a drug deal gone bad, but the jury was unconvinced. He was convicted and sentenced to death in March 2005. No witnesses for Preyor or Tackett attended the execution, according to TDCJ spokesman Robert Hurst.

During his latest appeals, Preyor’s attorneys argued that his trial lawyer, Michael Gross, was inadequate because he didn’t present evidence of a physically and sexually abusive childhood that could have swayed a jury to hand down the alternate sentence of life in prison. “[The jury] did not learn that Preyor jumped from a fourth floor balcony as a teenager, breaking both his ankles in the fall, to escape his mother as she chased him with a knife,” attorneys Hilary Sheard and Cate Stetson wrote in a filing to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. “... Any competent counsel would have recognized the importance of uncovering these harrowing details and presenting them to the jury responsible for recommending a life sentence or a death sentence.”

July 28, 2017 at 06:22 AM | Permalink


Another collateral consequence of unlawful drug conduct.

Posted by: Docile/Kind Soul® in OR | Jul 28, 2017 6:38:25 AM

Being the victim of horrific child abuse means,

1) one comes from very violent parents, and one carries that tendency;

2) one has been taught to use violence as a remedy;

3) one is more dangerous than average, with a 30% higher risk of being arrested for violent crime.

That means, horrific child abuse, if it has any influence on today, is an aggravating factor, not a mitigating factor.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 28, 2017 7:23:50 AM

Savage killer got what he deserved.

Posted by: federalist | Jul 28, 2017 8:17:19 AM

Problems with the representation provided is discussed here:


The first comment is notable too. He killed his drug dealer (a young white woman looking at a picture -- http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4738216/Texas-executes-man-murdering-drug-dealer.html) Murder of this sort is not to me the "worse of the worst" that warrants under the rules in place (even if you grant the death penalty should apply sometimes) execution of a tiny fraction of murders. He deserved a long prison sentence.

This underlines the arbitrary nature of the penalty.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 28, 2017 9:58:31 AM

Well Joe, he has gone to grass. Your concern for his case is touching. And, once again, you show your intellectual dishonesty--there's no free-standing rule that only the so-called "worst of the worst" get the DP.

This was a horrible and savage crime. I'm glad he's dead.

Posted by: federalist | Jul 28, 2017 10:15:03 AM

Joe. I think you need to apologize. You devalue the life of a female. She may have been a lesbian or bisexual. She was a criminal, which is a form of disability, an involuntary disability from a missing ability to act morally. Sexist, homophobic, and ablist is not a way to go through life, today. I would file a formal complaint, and demand an investigation into your comment, if we worked in a prosecutor or criminal defense office.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 28, 2017 10:22:37 AM

Gone to grass? Retire? But, apparently I'm doing what I always do.

I used a term repeatedly used to summarize the general principle in place. As noted in cases such as Roper v. Simmons:

Capital punishment must be limited to those offenders who commit "a narrow category of the most serious crimes" and whose extreme culpability makes them "the most deserving of execution."

It must not be only applied to all murders. But, again, federalist is wasting time (see the recent "life and death" business). He is arguing that this is "horrible and savage," so would apparently meet the test anyway. But, what that entails is a weighing of various factors. Which obviously we will disagree about.

Anyway, here's just one analysis: http://www.hastingslawjournal.org/wp-content/uploads/Smith-65.5.pdf

I don't think this case is a "worse of the worst" case (quotes showing it is a shorthand label). The other person just killed is more easily put in that category. And, even if he was, the death penalty has too many problems, including the arbitrary Russian Roulette way it is applied where a arbitrary few are executed among a bunch of others.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 28, 2017 10:54:35 AM

I'll respond to DB in this fashion.

I do think that the race and sex of the victim here (if he murdered, in the same way, some other drug dealer, he very well might not have received the same punishment) mattered.

I don't think we have a free rein here to harm people. The general idea here, often confused, is that the person would not be executed (or given as harsh of a penalty) if someone else was harmed. If this is a result of arbitrary criteria, it is wrong.

Some (I recall an op-ed by Ed Koch) say we should just ratchet up -- so here, execute more people. But, I think not killing people is the best policy and I would apply that equally.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 28, 2017 11:00:05 AM

Joe, I meant the killer.

As for the quote of Roper v. Simmons, yet again, you elide the issue--SCOTUS has decided that states need to separate murder simpliciter from DP-worthy murder. These create both factual questions and judgment of factfinder questions. The murder falls into the death-eligible category and a jury made the judgment that it warranted death. Roper is therefore not offended. As for horrible and savage, it's the truth, and it dovetails with what the jury found.

As for wasting time over "life and death"--I think I've well-explained why the "wise [sic] Latina" deserves heavy criticism for that.

AS for your "Russian Roulette" nonsense--that's just a ridiculous way of summing up the effects of local prosecutorial discretion (i.e., democracy), mercy, cooperation and numerous procedural protections afforded capital defendants.

Posted by: federalist | Jul 28, 2017 11:33:10 AM

Joe said, "...the arbitrary Russian Roulette way it is applied..."

So, Joe, do you support mandatory sentencing guidelines for the death penalty, perhaps using a point system, heinousness, repeat offender, malice, vulnerable victim, etc.,to attenuate the arbitrariness, the rarity, the racial bias? Those were all benefits of the prior mandatory sentencing guidelines, and point system. I have to admit that I never once got the points correct on test questions of hypothetical cases. I would be interested in knowing if an expert like Prof. Berman correctly calculated the point system results, ever.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 28, 2017 12:00:46 PM

You guys take off your skirts and stop being whining Sallys.

The guy is gone. He would of maybe preferred life, but thats a very low level pre historic life style. Have nothing, are nothing and never will. Even if your King Kong, you age get hurt or 5 guys stab so many holes in you, its curtains. If you have a releSe date, its hope.

Posted by: MidWestGuy | Jul 28, 2017 3:50:03 PM

"1) one comes from very violent parents, and one carries that tendency;

2) one has been taught to use violence as a remedy;

3) one is more dangerous than average, with a 30% higher risk of being arrested for violent crime."

Based on this logic the first person we should kill is @David. He is named after a person who's one claim to fame is the cruel slaying of Gentile by a barbarous Jew. By studying the violence of his namesake he has leaned to use violence as a remedy (123D). This makes @David more dangerous than average, with a 300% higher risk of posting trollish comments on the internet. So having the name of David is a aggravating, not mitigating factor as to why @Doug should ban him.

Posted by: Daniel | Jul 28, 2017 4:00:41 PM

Hello, Daniel. That is the pro-criminal left. The facts abandoned it 100 years ago. They killed 100 million people, and still failed to persuade. All they have is personal attack. They want anyone dissenting from their sicko ideology dead or personally destroyed. They are doing that to our brave leader, President Donald Trump. Daniel wants someone dead for making Comments on a left wing, pro-criminal, anti-victim, pro lawyer rent seeking blog.

I do not want to kill the lawyers here. I want to debate them.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 28, 2017 5:06:21 PM


If you considers it a personal attack when I apply the same logic to you as you apply to others then I freely admit it, I engaged in a personal attack. But that is the right wing tin foil hat mentality. Call them out for their hypocrisy and they claim you are engaging in a personal attack; demonstrate their two faced lies about racism and it is you who are dragging the conversation into the mud; criticize conservative bloodlusting and it is you who become the sinner for noting their sin. They don't have a problem, they have transcended into Bhuddahood--it is the other guy who always has a problem. Some debate that it is, it's a debate you have preordained yourself to win. Another sham like all your other shams.

Posted by: Daniel | Jul 28, 2017 6:30:55 PM

Daniel. I cannot argue with a denier. A denier does not argue in good faith. You are denying the failure of the left over the past 100 years.

Answer the question. Was 9/11 a Mossad/CIA operation, with timed, pre-placed detonations in the outbuildings, as one might see in a scheduled demolition?

Joe, you too, answer the question.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 28, 2017 9:15:30 PM

Meanwhile on the death penalty front, Amy Barrett is getting some pushback for the views she spells out in depth here: http://scholarship.law.nd.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1523&context=law_faculty_scholarship

(Catholic Judges in Capital Cases)

I won't say much on the topic except to say that I think some of the criticisms from opposition to the nomination on this question appear somewhat unfair. If one opposes her nomination, I would not rely on this.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 29, 2017 2:00:24 PM

"SCOTUS has decided that states need to separate murder simpliciter from DP-worthy murder"

Yes. As I said, the test in place is that a certain core of murderers, repeatedly summarized as "worst of the worst," must be separated. Glad we agree.

We disagree in the application as to the facts in place here. That's fine. That happens. But, useful to at least know the basic test in dispute.

I'm not really sure local prosecutorial discretion is "democracy." That word is as much symbolic as having much content. A local prosecutor, e.g., can very well be appointed and act against the wishes of the local population.

And, democracy repeatedly results in wrongs, which are restrained by constitutional provisions. So, sure, democracy is involved here, including the judges etc. who apply the law in ways you don't like. Sotomayor is here because of democracy -- the people voted for Obama and a Democratic Senate. But, you think she's wrong in various respects.

Likewise, I think the result of the process is arbitrary overall. Your conclusionary comment that it is "ridiculous" to say so is duly noted.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 29, 2017 2:13:44 PM

Joe. Congress must begin to impeach Justices for their insurrection against Article I Section 1 of the constitution. It gives lawmaking power to the Congress. Nothing in Article III allows the Supreme Court to even review a zoning rule of the tiniest village, even if it prohibits people of a certain race from moving there. Judicial review was just made up by corrupt lawyers without amending the constitution. It is illegal. If you want judicial review get an Amendment passed.

Answer the question, you weasel. Was 9/11 a Mossad/CIA operation, with timed, pre-placed detonations in the outbuildings, as one might see in a scheduled demolition?

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 29, 2017 3:37:38 PM


"Judicial review was just made up by corrupt lawyers without amending the constitution. "

A rare point where we agree. Maybury vs Madison was one of the most heinous decisions ever foisted on the mind of man. Having said that, and in fairness to the perpetrators of this violent crime, the world was a very different place back then and there was no legal profession in the sense we mean it today. But Jefferson's tart take on Maybury proved to very prescient.

Posted by: Daniel | Jul 29, 2017 3:56:08 PM


Thanks to the link to the article from Amy Barrett. It makes ME oppose her nomination but not for the reasons that one might think. While she has the Church's position on the DP correct what she doesn't understand is the stance the Church takes on the relationship between religious duty and civil duty. There is nothing in Catholic teaching the even so much as implies that if there is a conflict between civil and church obligations that the judge should recuse or resign, on the contrary the Church makes it very clear that an adherent's obligation is to uphold the civil law. To be sure, if a Catholic judge in a DP case wants to recuse or resign based upon their own personal beliefs they are of course free to do that but then then are free to do that in any event whether they are Catholic or not. So a Catholic judge may rely--if they wish--on their Catholic faith to /buttress/ a decision to recuse or resign but they cannot rely on their faith to /justify/ their decision to recuse or resign in a DP case. This distinction between buttress and justification is crucial understanding Catholic thought in this area and the fact the she wrote a lengthy law review article of the topic and doesn't understand even the most basic parameters of the issue tells me that she not the kind of person who is fit to be a judge. It seems to me that she is so eager to get to what she perceives as the politically correct outcome she doesn't care that she comes across as an ignoramus in the process...that is very worrying.

Posted by: Daniel | Jul 29, 2017 4:16:24 PM

"if a Catholic judge in a DP case wants to recuse or resign based upon their own personal beliefs they are of course free to do that"

This seems to hurt the cause. The basic reality is that the Catholic Church gives the individual believer, surely in the U.S., a significant degree of discretion to determine for themselves what their personal beliefs in practice should be. This to me is effectively part of the doctrine. It is at least "implied" that it is the spirit of the doctrine.

"adherent's obligation is to uphold the civil law"

Part of our civil law allows, as noted, recusal in certain cases. I don't known enough of Catholic doctrine to determine if her analysis is wrong. My overall implication is to think you are being a tad unfair. But, maybe I'm wrong. I don't think her analysis is some outlier though.

And, to the extent that she sets forth an overall principle -- no matter what one's belief is -- I think it has some value. The particulars of Catholic faith isn't really important in that context. Finally, the principle has wide scope -- one can be an atheist and have certain basic beliefs that clash in this context.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 29, 2017 4:48:32 PM

"perceives as the politically correct"

I particularly don't think she is trying to be politically correct.

This is matter of debate among Catholics (Scalia, who she clerked for, addressed it) and she set forth her own view.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 29, 2017 4:58:07 PM

@joe "I don't known enough of Catholic doctrine to determine if her analysis is wrong. My overall implication is to think you are being a tad unfair. But, maybe I'm wrong. I don't think her analysis is some outlier though."

(1) Her analysis is an outlier but more importantly from a Catholic point of view (2) it's wrong.


is the statement on participation in social life.


is the link to the Church's position on the DP.

2267 "The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor."

She confuses her own moral perspective on the death penalty with what the Church demands. She states, "we believe that Catholic judges (if they are faithful to the teaching of their church) are morally precluded from enforcing the death penalty." That statement is directly contradicted by the texts of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which I linked to above. Catholic judges who impose the death penalty are in full conformance with the teaching of the church.

Posted by: Daniel | Jul 29, 2017 7:00:27 PM

Joe, we do not agree--your summary as shorthand, fine--but the fact is that you want to do after-the-fact analysis of "worst of the worst" and create a free-standing right to not be executed if you don't meet the Joe-standard "worst of the worst." The murderer was given the death penalty pursuant to lawful statutes and process.

As for the denigration of "democracy"--local prosecutors select whether they are going to pursue the DP or not. And they are accountable to local voters on that score. To add that as a factor of "arbitrariness" is plump stupid.

Posted by: federalist | Jul 30, 2017 7:49:55 AM

@Daniel. The legal profession as we know it today has been exactly the same since 1200 AD, after the conquering French taught the English their rent seeking, overlawyered methodologies. The 17th Century saw minor updates from Medieval law.

As to the Colonies and independent America, they were more litigious than we are today. The contingency fee came into being in the late 18th Century after plaintiffs won, collected, and stiffed their lawyers. It is not a method to provide access to the court for poor people. It is an effective collection tool for the plaintiff bar, to get the money first, and to give some remaining crumbs to the client.

Posted by: David Behar | Jul 30, 2017 11:13:09 AM

"if you don't meet the Joe-standard"

It isn't my standard. It is a common rough summary of current law. I included an article to help underline what I was talking about. It's fine we disagree as to the application.

I'm also not trying to 'denigrate' democracy as much as stating a perfectly bland statement regarding the constitutional limits in place as checks. Voters play an important role as a check, but it's not the only one out there. Voters sometimes support constitutional things, as shown by the number of free speech cases involving popularly passed legislation.

Merely saying that just because prosecutors are in some fashion democratic in nature is of limited value to avoid arbitrary behavior. Again, this is bland stuff.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 31, 2017 11:27:45 PM

Daniel the first link is long and it would require some more comparison to explain how the take of her article conflicts with it.

As to the second, the "only practicable" test is an extreme case that rarely if ever truly occurs today as compared to let's say back in the day before modern penal systems. Thus, she, e.g., cites the finding of a group that studied the question at the request of bishops and found just that. And, because of the flaws of our own system, where the test is not applied, that adds to the overall argument that a Catholic judge could not hand it down.

Her position is not directly contradicted, especially as practical reality in the U.S. exists today, and your supposition as to her desire to advance political correctness is again unproven supposition of motive.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 31, 2017 11:35:43 PM

Post a comment

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