« Latest online issue of NACDL's "The Champion" full of sentencing articles | Main | When might we expect appointments to a new — a truly new — US Sentencing Commission? »

July 1, 2021

Texas completes only second state execution of first half of 2021

As detailed in this local article, Texas completed an execution last night just before the end of June.  Here are some details:

Texas executed John Hummel Wednesday evening for the 2009 murders of his family members.

Hummel, 45, was sentenced to death by a Tarrant County jury in 2011 after the slayings of his pregnant wife, his 5-year-old daughter and his father-in-law at their Kennedale home.  Police found their burned, beaten bodies in or near their beds after responding to an early morning fire, according to court records. Officials determined that they died by blunt-force injuries before the fire was set....

Shortly after 6 p.m., Hummel was escorted into the state's death chamber in Huntsville.  He was pronounced dead at 6:49 p.m., 13 minutes after he was injected with a lethal dose of pentobarbital, according to prison reports....

Hummel’s appeals — including a push last year to have the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office taken off his case because his defense attorney at trial had become a leader in the prosecutor’s office — had been denied before Wednesday.

Last week, however, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas sought to stop his execution because prison officials failed to let reporters witness a May execution for the first time in the history of the state's modern death penalty. Reporters for the Associated Press and the Huntsville Item, who attend every execution, were left waiting to be escorted from prison administrative offices across the street when Quinton Jones was killed. The same reporters were able to witness Hummel's execution Wednesday, Joseph Brown of the Huntsville newspaper, The Item, confirmed.

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has said excluding the onsite reporters was a mistake, and has assured that media will be allowed in the future to observe as the state wields its greatest power over life.  The agency blamed new execution staff, a revised execution protocol and a lack of oversight, according to a TDCJ statement....

Nationwide, reporters have served as watchdogs in botched executions in states that struggle to find lethal injection drugs as capital punishment’s popularity wanes.  And Texas media reports often provide detail excluded from agency accounts of executions — like prisoners describing a burning sensation after lethal drugs are injected in their veins....

After the execution, Tarrant County District Attorney Sharen Wilson said in a statement that the death penalty should be reserved for the worst crimes. "John Hummel’s actions were unconscionable," she added.

Hummel’s execution, originally set for last March, was the first in the state to be taken off the calendar because of the coronavirus pandemic.  Texas has executed two people in the pandemic — Billy Wardlow last July and Jones last month. That’s an exceptionally low number for Texas, which leads the nation by far in executions.  Aside from Hummel, four other men’s executions were halted because of public health concerns.

So far, four other men are scheduled to be executed in Texas in 2021. Only one other execution in the nation is scheduled for 2021, in Nevada, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

July 1, 2021 at 11:35 AM | Permalink


"John Hummel’s actions were unconscionable," she added.

As compared to all the others who aren't executed? This only the second state execution in 2021.

I'm not sure how many murders are "conscionable."

Coverage cites various possible mitigations and a victim noting that an execution won't give her "closure."

Meanwhile, Atty General Garland:


Posted by: Joe | Jul 1, 2021 7:42:34 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