Texas

Texas is Trying to Execute a Man for a Murder He Didn't Commit

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied a recommendation to relieve him of execution.

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|||Conchasdiver/Dreamstime.com
Conchasdiver/Dreamstime.com

Can a state sentence someone to death for a murder that they didn't commit? According to Texas, the answer is "yes."

In 1996, 22-year-old Jeff Woods was involved in the robbery of a convenience store, which resulted in the death of Kris Keeran, the store clerk. Woods was outside in the getaway vehicle when his co-conspirator, Danny Reneau, fatally shot Keeran. Though Woods did not kill the clerk, both he and Reneau were sentenced to death. Reneau was executed in 2002.

Now, 22 years later, Woods' lawyers are fighting to get him off of death row.

Last Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied a trial court's recommendation to relieve Woods, who is now 45, of execution. The court argued that Woods posed a future threat because of a previous robbery with Reneau. This assessment was based in part on a 1998 testimony from psychiatrist Dr. James P. Grigson, who carries the nickname "Dr. Death."

Grigson's influence in the case has been controversial. His method for determining an inmate's likelihood to reoffend was questioned by Woods' lawyers as they argued that Grigson almost always concluded that defendants would be future dangers. A 2004 article, which looked closely at Grigson's career, states that he often did not even meet with the defendants he recommended for death. Grigson was eventually expelled from both the American Psychiatric Association and the Texas Society of Psychiatric Physicians for his predictability methods, which the boards deemed unscientific.

Now that the appeals court has made its decision, it will now set an execution date for Woods. But there is still hope. A request for commutation can now be filed on his behalf. Lucy Hale, the prosecutor in Wood's initial trial, sent a letter to the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole in August 2017 asking Gov. Greg Abbott to reduce Woods' sentence to life in prison. Hale noted in her letter that she was unaware of Grigson's history. Had she been made aware, she would have decided against asking him to testify.

As previously explained by Reason in 2016, Texas' "law of parties" is to blame for Woods' placement on death row. Though he was not directly responsible for the taking of Keeran's life, Texas law demands that a person who has aided someone else while they commit a capital murder is similarly eligible for the death penalty.

Bonus link: Texas is not the only state with overzealous sentencing demands. An Illinois mother is currently dealing with the consequences of being on the sex offender registry despite not being a sex offender.

NEXT: When Trump (or Obama) Threatens CEOs, It's the Little Guy Who Loses

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  1. I oppose the death penalty, but this is obviously felony murder, a murder by which had you not committed a felony, a person would not have died. If a person rob a bank and a cop fatally runs over a kid on the way to respond, the robber is responsible for that death.

    1. I oppose the death penalty, but this is obviously felony murder, a murder by which had you not committed a felony, a person would not have died.

      I favor the death penalty, but my favor relies on bullshit like this not being bullshit. I don’t feel particularly better, in my heart or my pocketbook, that the guy will spend the entirety of his life on death row for not shooting the clerk.

      Reason’s shitty reporting being what it is, it’s entirely possible that Woods secured the weapon, picked the place for the robbery, put the gun in Reneau’s hand, and told him to waste anyone who got in his way. If so, a death sentence may make sense. However, just being present for loosely affiliated with a felony where someone gets murdered doesn’t and shouldn’t make one a felony murderer.

      If a person robs a bank and a cop fatally runs over a kid on the way to respond, the cop should be on the hook for that death, not the robber. Officers of the peace don’t sacrifice lives for dollars. That’s how you end up with a gunman in Chicago or Alabama shooting injuring a handful of people but killing no one and cops, arriving on the scene killing 2.

      1. I agree that he is culpable. It’s more than reasonable to assume the violent act in which you were a participant could result in injury or death. You assume that risk and the consequences thereof. It’s unfortunate that the consequence here is state execution. I wouldn’t agree with it even if he was the one who pulled the trigger.

        However, the psychiatrist sounded like a shill for prosecutors and shouldn’t have been considered in the sentencing or the appeal. If this reporting is accurate and the guy isn’t being put to death solely for the murder but instead his likelihood to reoffend pushed sentencing over the edge, and that was based on purchased expert testimony, then he should be taken off death row.

        1. I agree that he is culpable. It’s more than reasonable to assume the violent act in which you were a participant could result in injury or death.

          Does Texas generally execute drunk drivers?

          1. If they don’t, I’d have to question everything I’ve ever been told about Lone Star justice.

          2. No because drunk drivers have diminished capacity but we do punish them and if they are involved in an accident and kill someone, they are charged with intoxication manslaughter. The comparison as the question is idiotic

        2. However, the psychiatrist sounded like a shill for prosecutors and shouldn’t have been considered in the sentencing or the appeal. If this reporting is accurate and the guy isn’t being put to death solely for the murder but instead his likelihood to reoffend pushed sentencing over the edge, and that was based on purchased expert testimony, then he should be taken off death row.

          Also, while I’m leaning towards agreeing on this, I’d have to find Woods’ full rap sheet, if any, to be more certain.

        3. If he’s being executed for the possibility of future crimes, where do they draw the line? Why not round up anyone shady and have Grigson predict who is a threat? Then put him back in his vat with the other precogs.

      2. Reason’s shitty reporting being what it is… the guy actually sentenced to death is Jeff Wood, not Jeff Woods.

        Maybe Reason should lay off on the editors and hire a writer or two.

        1. Davis and Seyton are actually ‘bots. Reason bought them used and cheap when Vox upgraded.

    2. Felony murder is such bullshit…Yes, a robber would be responsible, but not AS responsible as if they ran over the child intentionally or as if they shot the clerk themselves. If that is not reflected in sentencing, it?s simply injustice. Sure, you shouldn?t commit felonies, but you shuld be only held responsible for what you cause intentionally or out of negligence, not for any random shit that happens by accident or by an action of a third party that you can?t prevent.

      1. ^This.

      2. But..but…but…you didn’t hang the guy – you only brought the rope and tied the noose.

    3. Bullshit. totally f’d up bullshit. If you don’t commit the murder, it’s not murder. It makes no sense rationally or morally to charge somebody for murder if they were only an accessory in some way.

      In this case, this poor guy may not even have known that his accomplice was going to kill somebody.

      Supporting a murder charge in this case is sociopathic.

      1. Play felony games where someone is killed, win felony prizes.

  2. Oh man, did he get on the stand and say, “I shot the clerk? I shot the clerk?”

    1. “Your Honor, I’m done with this guy.”

    2. No he claimed he shot the sheriff but he didn’t shoot no deputy

  3. Perhaps his request for commutation to life in prison should be granted. Perhaps even a long prison sentence that’s not life in prison. but it’s disingenuous to suggest he wasnt culpable for the murder when he was the murderers partner in crime.

    1. Did he know, or did he have a reason to suspect that his partner in crime is likely to shoot during a robbery? There are many robbers who are just wawing a gun (often a fake gun) but never have the intention to shoot anyone.

      1. He had reason to suspect it was in fact a real gun since it was a real gun and he planned the crime with his partner. He had reason to suspect his partner might shoot someone since he was committing armed robbery with a gun.

        It doesn’t take a genius to know that armed robberies don’t always go as planned and people get shot. Not all the time or even most of the time, but often enough that it was an obvious and very real possibility. I’m sure the guy who actually shot the victim didn’t start the robbery planning on killing someone, he presumably just wanted to get the money and get away. But he killed a man anyway.

        I’m not against giving the accomplice a more lenient sentence than the direct perpetrator or even just saying that it was a heinous crime, but one that could be given a less severe sentence than death. But Woods is still culpable in a murder.

        Saying

        “Can a state sentence someone to death for a murder that they didn’t commit? According to Texas, the answer is “yes.””

        is misrepresenting the situation.

      2. He had reason to suspect it was in fact a real gun since it was a real gun and he planned the crime with his partner. He had reason to suspect his partner might shoot someone since he was committing armed robbery with a gun.

        It doesn’t take a genius to know that armed robberies don’t always go as planned and people get shot. Not all the time or even most of the time, but often enough that it was an obvious and very real possibility. I’m sure the guy who actually shot the victim didn’t start the robbery planning on killing someone, he presumably just wanted to get the money and get away. But he killed a man anyway.

        I’m not against giving the accomplice a more lenient sentence than the direct perpetrator or even just saying that it was a heinous crime, but one that could be given a less severe sentence than death. But Woods is still culpable in a murder.

        Saying

        “Can a state sentence someone to death for a murder that they didn’t commit? According to Texas, the answer is “yes.””

        is misrepresenting the situation.

      3. He had reason to suspect it was in fact a real gun since it was a real gun and he planned the crime with his partner. He had reason to suspect his partner might shoot someone since he was committing armed robbery with a gun.

        It doesn’t take a genius to know that armed robberies don’t always go as planned and people get shot. Not all the time or even most of the time, but often enough that it was an obvious and very real possibility. I’m sure the guy who actually shot the victim didn’t start the robbery planning on killing someone, he presumably just wanted to get the money and get away. But he killed a man anyway.

        I’m not against giving the accomplice a more lenient sentence than the direct perpetrator or even just saying that it was a heinous crime, but one that could be given a less severe sentence than death. But Woods is still culpable in a murder.

        Saying

        “Can a state sentence someone to death for a murder that they didn’t commit? According to Texas, the answer is “yes.””

        is misrepresenting the situation.

        1. Sorry, accidentally over clicked submit, I’ll try and figure out if I can delete the extra posts.

          1. That’s alright, it was so true it was worth saying three times.

      4. He was an accomplice in an armed robbery. A reasonable person would know that there’s a high likelyhood of someone getting grievously injured or killed during the commission of that crime. AS far as those who ‘wave fake guns’ – well the real guns that come out in response can still kill and the robber is responsible for setting up that chain of events.

  4. So Woods agreed to be the getaway driver in a convenience store robbery. These robberies generally involve a threat of death of the clerk doesn’t give over his employer’s money. The threat of death tends to be backed up with a loaded firearm. Woods wanted his confederate to play around with death threats so they could steal money.

    Oops, the robbery “went wrong” and Woods’ confederate actually used the deadly force he was “supposed” only to threaten with.

    Or maybe Woods thought his confederate was only using a toy gun? That would be very dumb and irresponsible to make such an unfounded assumption.

    The law confirms what we know intuitively – that Woods did indeed take part in that murder.

    The death penalty, and the presence of the sinister Dr. Death, are the factors which make me uneasy, not the felony murder rule in this particular application.

    1. In fact, Texas requires predictions of future dangerousness, distinguishing between one killer and another. This is, to put it as mildly as possible, a very imprecise art.

      1. Texans are incapable of understanding art. They have neither the educational infrastructure nor the cognitive faculties needed in order to process something as accessible as a Jackson Pollock painting, let alone something like The Girl with the Peal Earring or American Gothic.

        1. Most of them got the Glen Beck Piss Obama joke (Obama action figure in a jar of Mountain Dew). Give them some credit.

        2. Sure, but how many Jackson Pollocks does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

          1. zero, Pollock best viewed in the dark.

        3. ooh those panties are bunched tightly this morning…got some serious wedge/ass crack action going on Rev.?

          1. Is this pastor a parody account, or actually the Rev.? I’m sure it’d be impossible to tell without Rev’s normal markers.
            Carry on clingers!

    2. So Woods agreed to be the getaway driver in a convenience store robbery.

      I wasn’t there for the robbery. For all we know, Woods agreed to be the driver as much as the clerk agreed to give over his employer’s money.

      I’m not saying the guy’s innocent, just not guilty of murder.

      1. I’m going by what the jury seems to have decided, but I’ll take another look…

        1. Here’s the best-case scenario for Wood, as laid out in his own clemency application:

          https://bit.ly/2KCrGIi

          Wood was in on a plan to steal from the story, apparently with the manager’s connivance, but the clerk wasn’t in on it or backed out. The other guy decided to go through with a robbery and killed the noncompliant clerk. Supposedly Wood did’t know his confederate had his gun on him, though Wood had stolen guns for the guy before.

          1. Wood was in on a plan to steal from the story,

            Is this a quote from the article?

            Because I read the whole section titled ‘There wasn’t really a plan.’ and got a very different feeling. Of course, you had to skip past the parts where he’s borderline mentally retarded, possibly incapable of conceptualizing a plan in order to get to the part where wasn’t a plan but I can see how you would honestly make the mistake you did.

            1. I was actually responding to a specific claim of yours:

              “For all we know, Woods agreed to be the driver as much as the clerk agreed to give over his employer’s money.”

              If that were true his lawyers would have claimed it in his clemency application.

              To miss that point, you’d have to be lying or stupid.

              And see my reference to his mental state below, before I saw your highly intelligent and helpful comments.

              1. If that were true his lawyers would have claimed it in his clemency application.

                Wood didn’t drive to the gas station and, once the shooting started, he ran into the gas station. I’ve never been a getaway driver, but I think you’d expect shooting and know your role. But then, I don’t have an IQ of 80 either.

                It actually sounds like half the reason the clerk gave Reneau resistance is because they’d discussed this exact scenario without making any sort of plan. It’s well within the realm of possibility that Reneau was the only one that knew there would be violence that day and Keeran was, as a party to fraud, guilty of his own murder under the felony murder rule.

                Again, Wood was part of a criminal act and should’ve spent time in prison. That doesn’t make the felony murder rule all kinds of retarded for all kinds of reasons.

          2. Wood had stolen guns for the guy before

            Well shit.Pump that poison in subcutaneously. IV is too good for him. This execution is at least 20 years too late

        2. I’m going by what the jury seems to have decided, but I’ll take another look…

          Wikipedia has links that does and doesn’t clarify much: According to Wood, he and Keeran (the victim) were friends. Wood wasn’t aware of Reneau’s plan and was forced by Reneau to remove and destroy the security footage. Supposedly, Wood was borderline unable to stand trial with an IQ of 80.

          Not having met the man and given the totality of circs. I’d lean away from the death penalty rather than into it.

          That’s not to undermine the felony murder rule, there are certainly bloodthirsty multiple-offenders who just happened not to be the one pulling the trigger on any given felony, but this doesn’t sound like that sort of case to me.

          1. Not surprisingly, Wood’s defenders focus on his low mental capacity. That sounds plausible, in the sense that these kinds of criminals are rarely Mensa candidates, and it would explain how Wood didn’t think through the deadly possibilities of plotting to steal a safe with a confederate for whom he had stolen guns before.

            1. Your own citation above has him diagnosed as being borderline mentally handicapped, repeatedly and by multiple professionals, since he was in grade school. Either it’s a brilliant long con and he’s actually Keyser S?ze (except he got caught stealing $11K) or he really is borderline retarded.

              1. “Either it’s a brilliant long con”

                Do you have any other clever remarks nobody said?

          2. Given the ineptitude of the State, I’d always lean away from the death penalty.

            1. I would avoid committing felonies in a state that is not afraid to execute.

  5. I have to agree. The Headline is deceptive. If a group of people commit an armed crime, they are all equally responsible if one of their own shoots someone. This isn’t even one of those weird ones where police shoot one of the robber and charges the rest with his murder. This is as cut and dry as they come. Woods might not have pulled the trigger, but he knew that they were robbing a store with a gun. He is just as guilty as his partner for the outcomes of that action.

    There is no such thing as a mandatory death penalty in Texas or any other state, and it’s hardly overzealous on the legislature’s fault to follow the Supreme Court that felony murder is executionable. A prosecutor, judge, and jury all agreed that he should die for his crime.

    If you disagree with the death penalty, then argue against it on the many grounds that have been laid against it over the years. There are many sound avenues of logic that the death penalty is pointless, expensive, and has been implemented in ways prejudiced against poor and disadvantaged classes. Do not make up nonsensical lies to support your case. It only undermines your argument.

    1. I don’t disagree with the death penalty. I disagree with mandatory minimums, systemically false convictions, and holding people individually accountable for their own actions. Felony murder is executionable, Woods didn’t commit a murder. At worst he didn’t prevent a murder and that’s not something we as libertarians generally prosecute people for.

      1. I disagree with mandatory minimums, systemically false convictions, and holding people individually accountable for their own actions.

        Er… I disagree with holding people responsible for the individual actions of others.

        Again, if Woods got the gun, handed it to Reneau, and told him to shoot anyone who gets in his way, Woods is arguably guilty. If Woods was driving and Reneau, out of the blue, said, “Pull into this gas station.” before robbing the place, I’m pretty sure Woods has been unfairly convicted.

        1. Sorry, Mad, but I have to disagree. By that logic, if you have a group of thieves break into a bank, only the one who grabs the cash is guilty of robbery, not the guys holding the guns, the guys punching the tellers, and the getaway driver committed no crime at all. It also creates an unsustainable standard of evidence about who did what. They committed the crime as a group. They should all be punished as a group.

          The only exception to this would be if he actively turned on or turned in his comrade for crossing the line, or if the actions could not reasonably have ended in a death. Threatening a store clerk with a gun very reasonably ends in death.

    2. “He is just as guilty as his partner for the outcomes of that action.”

      No.

      If you don’t understand why this is incorrect, you haven’t advanced to a higher level of moral reasoning.

      1. Care to support that statement, my friend, or give vague insults that say nothing?

      2. Care to support that statement, my friend, or give vague insults that say nothing?

        1. Wood took part in the initiation of force against another, who was killed as a result. No sympathy.

          1. I see three possibilities here:

            1. You are expecting a man with an IQ of 80 to both understand higher levels of morality, and to have thought through all the possibilities of a fake armed robbery plot.

            2. You are ignoring inconvenient facts in order to argue for killing someone.

            3. You are functioning at the moral level of a primitive tribesman who blames anyone involved for any subsequent event, regardless of intention and chains of causation.

  6. What more do you expect from an uneducated, unenlightened, hyper-religious, ultraconservative nest of vipers like Texas? My recommendation would be for these people to attend college, abandon their faith, embrace modernity, prioritize science, reject hate, support tolerance, oppose bigotry, learn compassion, spurn superstition, repudiate dogma, elevate love, minimize parochialism, champion education, encourage liberalism, promote progress, defend love, outlaw fundamentalism, endorse ideas, downplay prejudice, and welcome knowledge.

    1. You forgot the Patriarchy. Can’t forget about the Patriarchy.

    2. needs more cognitive dissonance
      http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12…..uston.html

      Houston Is Largest City to Elect Openly Gay Mayor
      By JAMES C. McKINLEY Jr.DEC. 12, 2009

      1. Houston can’t really be compared to the rest of the state, but I’m glad the residents of that city recognized that love is love. Homosexuals deserve all the compassion in the world.

        My wife is a lesbian, and I couldn’t be prouder of her.

        1. See what you went and did to her?

        2. I see your problem now, your wife is a lesbian so you ain’t gettin none

        3. Right-wingers always revert to focusing on the gays.

          As if they were trying, desperately, to tell us something. Or at least emit a cry for help.

          Carry on, clingers.

        4. My wife is a lesbian, and I couldn’t be prouder of her.

          Fuck Houston, Rev! Come to NYC and you will run this town. Like, literally.

        5. Excuse me, but my opinion is relevant here. Houston is very much like the rest of the state (more so than Dallas or Austin).

          As for Parker, we didn’t care about the mayor being gay. Parker had done a good job with the city finances, and her campaign ran circles around Locke.

          Look up the Houston Free Press “Why Annise Parker Won and Gene Locke Lost”

    3. Wait, that’s such a spot-on imitation of the real Rev that Poe’s Law applies.

      1. The Reverend Al Sharpton is one of my heroes. If he were an atheist free thinker like me, he’d be perfect.

    4. entirely too much fun being a Texan to worry. Go Cowboys.

      1. entirely too much fun being a cowboy to worry. Go Texans.

    5. Dang!

      #Thesaurus

    6. If you are what ot means to be “elightened”, I will stick with ignorance. Your daily rants against anyone who dares express a different point of view is the defintion of bigotry. You love to attack us as uneducated and yet it is you who is either too arrogant or ignorant to grasp everything you post is rooted in prejudice. Prejudice is not only about race which is why this reality escapes you. You may also want to look up the defintion of liberalism because to be liberal means to be open minded and you are so clearly anything but open minded. You are a progressive, not a liberal. The intolerance and demand to adhere to YOUR dogma is the classic trait of a progressive. As for you demand to champion education, I, my wife as well as my daughter all have masters degrees and
      are all in education. Unlike you we encourage our students to read all points of view and make their own decisions, not blindly accept what they are told by fools and self serving frauds. You should try it, at least once.

  7. C’mon.

    This guy was part of the murder.

    Save the “did not commit” cry for when it means what it says.

    1. He was a part of a robbery. The shooter most likely decided to shoot out of his on will, without prior consultation with his accomplice.

      1. It sounds like a manager, the clerk, Wood, and Reneau half figured they’d defraud the Texaco in a mock(?) robbery. All were friends and Wood and Reneau had visited the station frequently. It seems entirely possible that Wood didn’t know the robbery was anything other than fiction until he heard gunfire.

  8. “In 1996, 22-year-old Jeff Woods was involved in the robbery of a convenience store, which resulted in the death of Kris Keeran, the store clerk. ”

    The passive voice would make a Chief of Police proud.

    1. “Mistakes were made. Clerks were shot.”

    2. Proud to have conveniently disarmed the clerk?

  9. >>>The court argued that Woods posed a future threat because of … testimony from psychiatrist Dr. James P. Grigson

    full stop. and for criminy he’s a lifer either way

  10. 2000 Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas (the highest court in Texas that deals with criminal matters) opinion on Jeffrey Lee Wood’s appeal: Wood v. State, 18 S.W.3d 642 (Tex. 2000). It covers his appeal and the ten points of error he raised. It might help clarify some questions about what happened that day.

    It doesn’t unfortunately, mention any prior criminal history he might have had. AFAIK, this was the only robbery that Wood and Reneau committed that day.

    I’d argue that Wood’s conviction is not so much an application of the felony murder rule, as it is the conviction of an accomplice.

  11. I have no sympathy for Jeff Woods. While I oppose the death penalty, I won’t lose any sleep if Texas kills him.

    From the appellate trial, Wood v. State 18 S.W.3d 642 (2000):

    “The evidence showed that appellant and Daniel Reneau, appellant’s co-defendant, robbed a Texaco station and stole the safe, the surveillance VCR, and other items. During the course of the robbery, Reneau shot the victim. Appellant and Reneau fled to appellant’s parents’ home in Devine, Texas, where they attempted to open the safe with a sledge hammer and blow torch. Appellant’s sixteen-year-old brother, Jonathan Wood, asked how they had obtained the safe, and appellant explained that they had robbed the service station and killed the attendant. When Jonathan expressed his disbelief that they had committed murder, appellant played the surveillance video showing Reneau shoot the victim. Then, pursuant to appellant’s instructions, Jonathan destroyed the video with a blow torch.”

    Afterwards:

    “During the interim, appellant and Reneau had traveled to appellant’s parents’ house, removed the money from the safe, and shopped for cars and stereos.”

    Someone died so these two could go shopping.

    1. Reason couldn’t have picked a less sympathetic condemned murderer.

      1. I have faith they’ll find one in due course.

  12. Can a state sentence someone to death for a murder that they didn’t commit? According to Texas, the answer is “yes.”

    Look, I realize this is complicated “law stuff” for a farkin’ intern, but … murder is a specific defined crime in a legal context, not “killing someone without good reason”.

    So, yes, someone can be sentenced to death for the crime they did commit which is defined as murder, even if they did not actually kill the person. But they certainly did commit the crime they’re accused of, actively aiding in a felony that got someone murdered.

    The man here isn’t exactly innocent, or wrongly convicted, after all – he’s just not the trigger man.

    So … why should I be bothered, exactly? Wrongful convictions, trial fraud, all of that, those are horrible injustices.

    I’m not seeing any obvious, huge injustice in this, esp. re. LiborCon’s pointing out of the details of the context.

    It’s pathetic that Reason can’t stick to the plethora of actual miscarriages of justice … and that to get detailed reporting of the specifics we have to look in the comments.

    J’Accuse!

    1. I mean, Jesus. Feel free to argue against Felony Murder Rules!

      But do so directly and honestly and transparently, not by trying to pretend A Purely Innocent Man Is Being State-Murdered For No Reason!

  13. The driver has always been held to be as guilty as the shooter. Hang him.

  14. If he’s not guilty for not pulling the trigger, than Hitler was a misunderstood artist.

    1. Yeah, being a getaway driver to a robbery is the moral equivalent to masterminding and ordering a genocide.

      1. However, Incredulous, you do have to accept that indirect guilt is still guilt. Reducto ad Absurdum is a legitimate comparison for these sorts of things.

        They arranged, planned, and stole the goods together, broke into the safe together, and fenced the goods and profited together. They even showed the security footage of the murder to the little brother, bragging about the murder (see LiborCor’s post above). How do they both not share in the guilt for all the crimes committed?

        In addition, you still have that absurd standard of evidence. If not for the security footage, we would have no method of determining which of the two actually pulled the trigger. Would that mean that neither of them could be charged with murder because we could not determine who actually did it? No. That’s insane. How would your standard be accomplished?

  15. I like how Reason couldn’t bother to include a photo of the perp….. In this case I guess that wouldn’t help the virtue signals get through to the right crowd.

    1. Crackers are disproportionately executed. It comes with the privilege.

      1. Is that true?

        In any case I loved the fact that the dude from this looks like this.

  16. You’re in a government rape cage helping the prison-industrial complex flush public funds down the toilet. I’m curious to know why anyone wouldn’t want the death penalty? Are you working on a novel? On the brink of achieving enlightenment? If you don’t believe in an afterlife, at least death means not having to be surrounded by assholes anymore; from the inmates to the employees. If you do believe in the persistence of consciousness after purging the body and ego, why wouldn’t you want to get out of the rape and violence filled waiting room that is a correctional facility and get on to the next phase of being? According to the Tibetan Book of The Dead, the time between physical death and physical rebirth is only about 49 days if you don’t merge with the eternal light forever. If you can’t live a productive, meaningful life, why not reboot in new incarnation? Sitting on an uncomfortable cot, surrounded by idiots, getting raped, fighting over commissary coffee, waiting to see which organ fails first has to be worse than just dying.

    1. So I should have my tombstone read “CTL-ALT-DEL”?

      1. If Buddhists had tombstones that would be an utterly awesome thing to put on there. I’d totally do it if they did. And if I were a Buddhist.

  17. It’s hard to get Texans all worked up and weeping over convicted robbers, even if they were just following orders. The Uranium Savages did a song about it–Armed Robbery–and Joan Baez never even did a cover. George Holy War Bush wanted potheads sent to the gas chamber not very long ago…

    1. Seriously? Wow, you are an idiot.

      1. Oh you have no idea. That was one of his more coherent, logical statements.

  18. Maybe the convenience store clerk tried to sell them salsa from New York City.

    1. NEW YORK CITY?!?!?

  19. Enough with the clickbait bullshit. This isn’t Salon. Or at least it shouldn’t be striving to be.

    This is felony murder. You can oppose felony murder, but let’s not pretend it isn’t what it is. As a matter of law, this guy did participate in a murder. He didn’t intend to – and that should certainly be a mitigating factor – but he still assisted in a violent felony that directly lead to a homicide.

    1. He didn’t intend not to strongly enough, or he’d have been somewhere else.

      It’s like I tell my 10 year old son, after one of his predictable “accidents”: It’s not enough to not intend to have an accident, you have to take affirmative steps to avoid accidents.

      If you actively intend that nobody get murdered, you don’t participate in an armed robbery in the first place.

    2. Came here to say this. For a publication that bills itself as the logical voice in the room, it’s just embarrassing to give an article a blatantly incorrect title for the sake of sensationalism and clicks.

      You can certainly argue that felony murder shouldn’t make you eligible for the death penalty (it wouldn’t in my state), or even that the felony-murder rule should be abolished, but there is precisely zero argument that this was “a murder he didn’t commit.” He was found guilty of felony murder, and the facts underlying his conviction do not appear to be in dispute. This isn’t a dude who was just walking down the street, minding his own business, and then got thrown on death row – but that’s certainly what the title implies (in addition to being factually inaccurate).

      I hate to see one of our few remaining sane publications beclown itself like this.

  20. Enough of your clickbait headlines, you buffoons. This is the face you put forward in the midst of highlighting your history and heritage, what you had been in the past, to try to get us to donate for your future?

    1. Ah I see I have been beaten to it. Such is life.

  21. What is the point of having a death penalty if you can’t kill someone to get votes?

    This whole are they guilty or innocent is just silly handwringing. Everyone dies sometime. Not everyone dies in furtherance of an electoral victory.

  22. I can’t believe the crazy sociopathic comments here on a supposedly libertarian site.

    This shouldn’t even have been a murder charge. No rational or decent human being could believe otherwise. This poor sap didn’t kill anybody and probably didn’t intend to assist a murderer. He doesn’t deserve life in prison, let alone the death penalty.

    Anybody who believes otherwise is a sick sad excuse for a human being.

    1. “He didn’t know his colleague was bringing a gun to assist in their scheme for stealing a safe!”

      1. Where did you get that tidbit? Secondly, do you believe him?

    2. He initiated force against another, and it resulted in that person’s death. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

  23. This article is crap. In every state and under Federal law, if you are the participant in commission of a felony (armed robbery) and during the commission if that felony someone is killed, you are just as guilty as the person who actually pulled the trigger. In 99.9% of cases, the person who did not commit the murder usually enters a plea agreement to avoid being held accountable. Apparently this guy had a terrible lawyer or the actual crime was so heinous, the DA made no offer. Regardless, he was an adult who knew what he was doing when he CHOSE to do it. Sorry, what about the man who was killed? His life was ended for a few bucks. Sorry, you do the crime, you do the time. In this case, he made a bad decision and his justice will be EXACTLY what he and his partner gave the man they killed. Good riddance.

  24. I’m not seeing any miscarriage of justice. The felony murder rule has been around since before we were even a country and there is no question that Woods voluntarily participated in a robbery. If you voluntarily participate in a violent felony and someone gets killed, you’re just as responsible for the death as the person who directly caused it.

    If you want to argue that there are things which are currently considered crimes like drug use by adults that shouldn’t be crimes, then fine ? I’m probably with you on that. But robbery, burglary, arson, etc. are and should be crimes and I want the full force of the law brought against those that commit them including their accomplices. And if someone like this innocent store clerk gets killed during the commission of the felony, then the guy who helped plan or facilitate the crime including the getaway driver can fry for the murder just like the guy who pulled the trigger or lit the match.

  25. It is kinda forgotten now, but back in the late 1960s, early 1970’s Texas had a string of Democrat governors and even experimented with the California model of early release for certain young murderers. Some did as little as seven years. However, by the 1980’s a number of these guys were re-offending in the worst way possible–with multiple innocent victims.

    Texas saw the error of its ways.

  26. I thought felony murder was mostly to avoid the problem of justice when the shooter is not knowable, or the felons are attempting to play the reasonable-doubt card by pointing the finger at each other.
    ex. three robbers, no video, no witnesses, they are either not talking or implicating each other, and one shot fired. No way to get to the truth of the matter, so hang the lot of them.
    (n.b. didn’t everyone love collective justice when it happened to them, as was meted out by every grade school teacher in the country? It felt unfair then, and still has an element of not feeling fair, especially when the culprit is known.)

    But this case is different. One shooter, no doubt as to who it is. We don’t need collective justice since we can be quite specific about who the shooter is.

  27. As some folk have noticed, Reason leaves something to be desired as a source of actual news. Ben Rhodes’ comment on the average modern journalist rings ever truer – ‘ “They literally know NOTHING”

    “Common purpose” is a long standing principle of common law :

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_purpose

    It has the merit of preventing A and B from escaping justice by claiming “it was the other guy that did it !” in a situation where A and B have jointly entered into some criminal enterprise, but where it cannot be proved which of them did which particular heinous deed. It’s not some fantastic and bizarre notion that has suddenly occurred to Texan rednecks.

  28. My favorite felony murder case. 19 May 2009 Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Emanuel Mitchell (33) and Anthony Morrison (44) gave teenagers Antwun Parker and Jevontai Ingram a gun and disguises and sent them into Reliable Discount Pharmacy to commit a robbery for them. When Ingram pulled the gun on pharmacist Jerome Ersland, Ersland drew his own gun and fired hitting Parker who went down (self-defense at that point). Ersland chased Ingram from the store, returned and shot Parker repeatedly while he was still down. Jerome Ersland, Emanuel Mitchell and Anthony Morrison were found guilty of murder; teenage gunman Jevontai Ingram turned state’s evidence and showed remorse and contrition. Ingram received a reduced sentence.

    The robbery would not have occurred without Mitchell and Morrison supplying a gun and disquises and coercing the two teenagers into doing the robbery which resulted in Ingram’s death. The last shots by Ersland were not defensive, but were found to be malicious, punitive and unnecessary.

  29. So pardon my ignorance but; how do you people know he’s not guilty?
    In my little book that will never be published, even an attempt be anyone to Murder anyone would warrant the death penalty. That’s why my little book will never be published.

  30. I would say I’m surprised that Texas was relying on Grigson as late as 1998, but that would be a lie.

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