Thursday, February 21, 2008

Texas: Commutation Revisited

In 2005, twenty-eight inmates on death row in Texas had their sentences commuted to life in prison by Governor Rick Perry (R). The commutations were prompted by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that outlawed the execution of criminals who were juveniles when they committed an offense. At the time, Perry said, "While these individuals were convicted by juries of brutal murders and sentenced to die for their heinous crimes, I have no choice but to commute these sentences to life in prison." Today, the Daily Texan Online is reporting that one of the beneficiaries of the commutations, Robert Springsteen IV, will be retried at a later date. Springsteen was one of four suspects in the murder of four teenage girls at an I Can't Believe It's Yogurt! shop in North Austin. Prosecutors believe the incident was the result of a botched robbery. Each of the victims was stripped naked, bound, gagged and shot in the head. An attempt was then made to burn down the business. Springsteen was convicted in 2001 and sentenced to death, but his sentence was commuted in 2005 because he was under the age of 18 when the murders were committed. Then, in 2006, a court of appeals overturned the conviction because attorneys in his original trial were not allowed to cross-examine the co-defendant who provided an incriminating confession. See complete story here.

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