ALAA Roots — An Unofficial Site

August 21, 2008

2008.08.21: Jeff Woods Gets Stay of Execution!

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Racism,Sentencing — nyclaw01 @ 3:33 pm

From:  Kurti, Rebecca
Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2008 3:33 PM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Jeff Woods Gets Stay of Execution!

Jeff Wood won a stay in federal appeals court! Jeff’s wife told a member of the Texas Abolition Movement that Texas is not appealing the stay!!!

VICTORY!!!

The problems of the Law of Parties continues to be exposed and this case proved that people speaking out against it can make a difference.

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2008.08.21: FW: Call Texas Governor this morning to stop execution of Jeff Wood!

Filed under: Civil Rights,Criminal Justice,Racism,Sentencing — nyclaw01 @ 9:35 am

From: Herschel, Lucy
Sent: Thursday, August 21, 2008 9:35 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: FW: Call Texas Governor this morning to stop execution of Jeff Wood!

Again, the state of Texas is trying to execute someone under the “law of parties” for a murder they did not commit.  A national outcry last year saved the life of Kenneth Foster, Jr.  Please take a minute to call for Jeff Woods.

*****************************

Stop the Execution: Jeff Wood Faces Death Tomorrow for a Murder He Didn’t Commit

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has unanimously denied clemency for Jeff Wood, a man who killed no one. This cannot be tolerated.

Jeff Wood’s supporters are urging the governor of Texas to grant a 30-day stay of execution. Call or fax the governor today:

Phone: (512) 463-2000
Fax: (512) 463-1849

http://www.alternet .org/story/ 95690/

Stop the Execution: Jeff Wood Faces Death Tomorrow for a Murder He Didn’t Commit

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has unanimously denied clemency for Jeff Wood, a man who killed no one.
This cannot be tolerated.

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet
Posted on August 20, 2008

Imagine being 14 years old and waiting to learn whether your father is going to live or die. Only you’re not in a hospital waiting room, or anticipating dreadful news from a war zone. You are in Texas, and your father is on death row. His life is in the hands of seven people who will sit around a table and, in a deliberate manner, officially decide whether he should, indeed, be strapped to a gurney and injected with lethal chemicals, as planned. On the narrow chance that they decide to grant clemency, it is then up to the governor, a man who has signed off on more executions than any other in the country, to follow through.

This is what Paige Lynn Wood went through all day yesterday, which also happened to be her father’s 35th birthday. In the end, her worst fears were realized: On Tuesday afternoon, the board decided, in a vote of 7-0, to execute her father, Jeff Wood. Wood is scheduled to die by lethal injection Thursday night for a murder he did not commit. It’s not just that he has a strong innocence claim, or that his state-appointed council was completely incompetent during
his capital trial. The fact is, Wood did not kill anyone — and no one argues that he did. The person who committed the murder for which he is scheduled to die was already executed, six years ago.

The Crime, an Overzealous Prosecutor and a Man Named “Dr. Death”

On New Years Day 1996, 22-year-old Jeff Wood was in on a plot to rob a Texaco convenience store in Kerrville, Texas, along with a man named Daniel Reneau. The store’s assistant manager was an accomplice in the robbery: He was going to help Reneau navigate the store. But things didn’t go according to plan, and in the early hours of Jan. 2, Reneau shot their friend Kriss Keeran, who was working behind the counter, in the face, killing him instantly.

Wood was startled when he heard the gunshot, but he reportedly helped carry out the subsequent robbery anyway, stealing several thousand dollars. He and Reneau were arrested within 24 hours. They confessed to the crime, and Wood led police to the murder weapon.

While it remains unclear to what extent Wood was supposed to participate in the robbery, what is absolutely undisputed is that Wood had no role in Keeran’s murder. According to his attorneys, he was not even aware that Reneau was carrying a gun. After all, the robbery was supposed to be an inside job. As reiterated in the clemency brief filed by Wood’s defense attorneys early this month, “Reneau — the only person inside the store and who carried a
weapon — alone made the decision to take Keeran’s life. Mr. Wood was outside the store in his brother’s truck.”

Months later, during the trial of Daniel Reneau, there was no ambiguity over who had killed Keeran. According to Jordan Smith of the Austin Chronicle, “the state argued that he was responsible for Keeran’s murder and portrayed Wood as little more than a sap, steamrolled by the villainous Reneau.”

Renaeu was sentenced to death in March 1997. He was executed in 2002. Following the execution, the Dallas Morning News reported that when “asked on death row last week to identify the shooter, Reneau had a one-word reply: ‘Me.'”

Having locked in a death sentence for Reneau, it should have defied logic and legal ethics for prosecutors to change the story to make Wood the real villain. But that’s what happened. “At Wood’s trial,” reports Smith, “prosecutor  reversed their strategy, arguing that Wood deserved to die because he’d gotten Reneau to ‘do his dirty work.'”

Wood’s defense lawyers were useless. “Bowing to Mr. Wood’s emotional and irrational insistence, Mr. Wood’s appointed lawyers declined to cross-examine any witnesses or present any evidence on Mr. Wood’s behalf,” his appeals attorneys argue. “Mr. Wood’s trial attorneys called Mr. Wood’s actions a ‘gesture of suicide.'” If anything, it was an assisted suicide. Reports Smith, “not only did (Wood’s defense) withhold from the jury evidence of his
troubled youth, but they also failed to cross-examine any state witnesses, including the wildly speculative testimony of Dr. James Grigson — derisively known by many, including colleagues in the psychiatric community, as ‘Dr. Death’ for predictably offering testimony in capital cases that a defendant would pose a danger to society, one of the questions a jury must decide in order to impose a death sentence.” (In 1995, Grigson was kicked out of the American Psychiatric Association and Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians for “flagrant ethical violations.” )

Thus, one year after Renaeu was given a death sentence for killing Keeran, Wood, despite not having been present to witness the murder, was given a death sentence for the same crime.

The Case of Kenneth Foster Jr.

The case of Jeff Wood may sound beyond the pale, even for the state that carries out more executions than any other jurisdiction in the country, but it is by no means the first time the state of Texas has tried to kill two people for a murder committed by one person. In fact, at this same time last year, Kenneth Foster Jr. faced execution in a case with striking similarities to Jeff Wood’s. Foster was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1996 murder of Michael
LaHood Jr., despite the fact that the actual murder had been committed by another man.

Foster was 19 years old and acting as the “getaway driver” in a series of robberies when one of the people in the car, a man named Mauriceo Brown, shot and killed LaHood, the son of a prominent attorney, at the end of the night. Foster was 80 feet away — like Wood, waiting in the car — when Brown pulled the trigger. He had the windows rolled up and was unaware that a murder was taking place. Mauriceo Brown admitted to the murder; he was executed in
2006.

Last year, Foster’s life was saved by a grassroots movement to stop his execution. At the center of the public outcry
was the injustice of a legal statute, one that, in its application, is uniquely Texan.

An Unjust Law
Foster and Wood were both sentenced under Texas’s “law of parties,” which is a twist on a conspiracy statute that
allows a defendant to be held accountable for a crime even if he or she did not commit it. As I explained in writing
about the Foster case last summer, in the state of Texas, “this can mean sentencing someone to death even if he or
she had no proven role in a murder.”

Texas’s law states that “if, in the attempt to carry out a conspiracy to commit one felony, another felony is committed
by one of the conspirators, all conspirators are guilty of the felony actually committed, though having no intent to
commit it.” Defendants, the Texas courts say, can be held responsible for “failing to anticipate” that the “conspiracy —
in Foster’s case, the robberies, for which he was the getaway driver — would lead to a murder.

In Wood’s case, the murder was also unplanned. Thus, he too is to be executed for “failing to anticipate” that
someone would be killed.

Family Victims
As he faced execution, Foster shared something else in common with Wood: He had a young daughter who was a
courageous voice of protest on behalf of her father. At a July 2007 rally, 11-year-old Nydesha Foster read from an
essay about her father. “They hate on my dad because they say, ‘he should have known better.’ Are they following the
law to the letter? Or the letter to the law?” She continued:
I stand as a child in the light of redemption. I benefit from his kisses and what he does even when people don’t look
or listen. So what is justice? Shame on you, Texas, because this time you’re really wrong. This is my poem, my prayer,
my song. That you will be known for something other than killing and ignoring the truth. We all make mistakes. Even
you.

You can watch it here <http://texasdeathpe nalty.blogspot. com/2007/ 07/nydesha- foster.html> .
Like Nydesha, Paige Lynn Wood has stood in public to defend the life of her father. Pictures of her and other family
members at rallies, making signs and approaching the governor’s mansion can be found on the Save Jeff Wood
<http://www.savejeff wood.com/> Web site. So can her poetry.
One of her poems is called “Waiting.”

I sit and wait … And wonder/I have been waiting my whole life

All the time wondering … Is my daddy coming home?

One is titled “Texas Took My Dad.”

My dad is not the killer/That you are led to believe he is.

He is a kind and gentle soul who only tried to do/What he believed was best for me

… And for those of you/Who want to kill my dad …

For shame, for shame/It’s you who are now to blame/for taking away my life!

Tell Gov. Rick Perry Not to Execute Jeff Wood

Jeff Wood’s supporters are urging the governor of Texas to grant a 30-day stay of execution. Call or fax the governor
today:

Phone: (512) 463-2000
Fax: (512) 463-1849

Liliana Segura is a staff writer and editor of AlterNet’s Rights & Liberties and War on Iraq Special Coverage. She is a
board member of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty.

 

August 8, 2008

2008.08.08: Antiwar Bulletin: Monday Rally for Dr. Afia Siddiqui

From: Letwin, Michael
Sent: Friday, August 08, 2008 11:36 AM
To: 1199 Members; ALAA MEMBERS
Subject: Antiwar Bulletin: Monday Rally for Dr. Afia Siddiqui

Pakistan USA Freedom Forum

We are calling for  support and justice for Dr. Afia Siddiqui (and all disappeared peoples)
All activist and people of conscious are welcome to attend a support

Rally

Monday August 11, 2008 at 2pm
Southern Federal Court of Manhattan
500 Pearl St. (on Worth St. near the corner of Center St.)
New York, New York

siddiqui

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AHRC-STM-207-2008
August 07, 2008

A Statement by the Asian Human Rights Commission
WORLD: The US Congress must investigate Dr. Afia’s case

The United States and its security organisations including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a statement confirming that Dr. Afia Siddiqui is in their custody since her so-called arrest from Afghanistan on July 17, 2008.  Dr. Afia was reported missing along with her three children since the past five years. From the day Dr. Afia went missing, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan was suspected of being responsible for her disappearance.

The admission of the US and its intelligence agency that Dr. Afia is in their custody and that D r. Afia was arrested on July 17 outside the governor house in Ghizni province in Afghanistan at least serves the minimal purpose that the ISI and the US administration is behind the disappearance of Dr. Afia, a Pakistani citizen bound to be protected by Pakistani law.

However there is overwhelming evidence demonstrating that Dr. Afia and her children have been missing March 2003. The admission by the FBI about the arrest on July 17, 2008 appears to be a ploy to detract attention from this long-term disappearance and their responsibilities for it.

An Urgent Appeal issued by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) on July 24, 2008, called upon the authorities in the US, Pakistan, Afghanistan and other UN agencies to immediately intervene in the case. The Appeal and a follow-up statement issued by the AHRC demanded a probe into the disappearance of Dr. Afia and her children.

According to Dr. Afia’s sister who gave a press conference in Karachi Dr. Afai’s family has been threatened to remain silent and not to talk to media on this matter. It is widely presumed that the action of the Pakistan authorities has been done at the behest of the US authorities.

It is reported that when Dr. Afia disappeared in 2003 she had three children of which the youngest was an infant. However when Dr. Afia was produced in the c ourt she had only one child in her possession. While the whereabouts of her other two children are not known, there are credible reports that of the two missing children one child had died in custody. The circumstances that led to the death of the child is not known and the authorities having custody of Dr. Afia and her children has thus far remained silent about it.

Dr. Afia’s physical and mental state when she was produced in court on August 5 is suggestive of the treatment a detainee like Dr. Afia receives in custody. Dr. Afia was reportedly not in a position to speak or even able to verbally respond to the court. Such physical and mental state of a detainee is also an indicator of the condition in which a suspect is detained and interrogated by the authorities responsible for this case.

While Dr. Afia’s involvement with anti-democratic forces is still being debated, what is apparent in Dr. Afia’s case is the simple fact that there is no possibility within Pakistan to determine such an issue independently. The limited scope for such an enquiry and also the use of the existing justice mechanism in Pakistan is denied by foreign interference. An external interference to such extent is only possible in a state where the domestic legislative and legal frame work for justice dispensation has collapsed considerably.

In these circumstances the AHRC calls upon the international community including the UN to ensure the following:

1. Immediate enquiry must be held at the highest possible levels of the US military and the US Congress into Dr. Afia’s case;

2. Dr. Afia must be provided immediate access to the lawyers of her choice;

3. Dr. Afia must be provided with immediate and adequate medical care;

4. That the whereabouts of her two missing children be revealed to the public;

5. Free access to be given to the media to interview Dr. Afia;

6. The human rights and civil society organizations in the US must form a special committee to investigate into Dr. Afia’s case

7. Dr. Afia must also be released from custody on bail pending enquiry into her case

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