Attorney for woman on death row challenges Texas procedures
January 20, 1998
Web posted at: 2:12 p.m. EST (1912 GMT)
AUSTIN, Texas (CNN) -- An attorney for convicted killer Karla
Faye Tucker attempted a legal maneuver Tuesday designed to
prevent her from being executed by lethal injection next
Attorney David Botsford filed a constitutional appeal with
the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Tuesday morning,
challenging the state's clemency procedure by calling it
Critics of the state's clemency procedures claim there are no
hearings to present witnesses and no way to refute any
erroneous information that is contained in a prisoner's file.
Later this week Botsford will formally file a petition for
clemency for his client with the Texas Board of Pardons and
Under Texas law, the parole board cannot consider commuting a
sentence until it receives a written request from the
condemned, the condemned's representatives or from a majority
of the trial officials.
The board usually acts on clemency requests within five days.
Ten of the 18 board members must approve or deny the request
before making a recommendation to Gov. George W. Bush. The
governor may commute a death sentence only after receiving a
recommendation from the parole board, but he is not bound by
the board's opinion. If the parole board denies a clemency
request, the governor cannot grant it.
Tucker, 38, an ex-drug abuser and prostitute, admits taking
part in the pick-ax murders of Jerry Lynn Dean and Deborah
Thornton of Houston in June 1983.
Jerry Lynn Dean and Deborah Thornton
Her attorneys say she is a now born again Christian who
deserves a chance to live.
Her execution is scheduled for February 3. If it is carried
out she will be the first woman executed in Texas since 1863.
If Tucker's death sentence is commuted to life in prison, she
will be eligible for parole on July 21, 2003.