Today is the 10th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty in Austin at 2 PM at the Texas Capitol

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Today, Saturday October 24, is the 10th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty, where the focus will be the Todd Willingham case and other cases involving innocent people sentenced to death. The march starts at 2 PM at the Texas Capitol in Austin.

Three innocent, exonerated former death row prisoners will be among the special guests today at the Tenth Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty. Curtis McCarty spent 19 years on death row in Oklahoma before being exonerated and released in 2007. Shujaa Graham spent three years on death row in California and Ron Keine spent almost two years on death row in New Mexico, which abolished the death penalty in 2009.

Also speaking will be the penpal of Todd Willingham, Elizabeth Gilbert, who first investigated his innocence. Todd's last lawyer Walter Reaves will also speak. Reaves submitted information on the day of Willingham's execution to Governor Rick Perry saying there was new evidence indicating Willingham may be innocent and that urged Perry to stay the execution. Of course, Perry ignored the new information and Willingham was executed on Feb 17, 2004.

The last request of Todd Willingham to his parents was “please don't ever stop fighting to vindicate me.”

Please attend the march to support the Willingham family as they fight to prove that Todd Willingham was innocent.

Speakers at the march include three innocent, now-exonerated death row prisoners (Shujaa Graham, Curtis McCarty and Ron Keine), Jeff Blackburn (Chief Counsel of the Innocence Project of Texas), Jeanette Popp (a mother whose daughter was murdered but who asked the DA not to seek the death penalty), Elizabeth Gilbert (the penpal of Todd Willingham who first pushed his innocence and helped his family find a fire expert to investigate), Walter Reaves (the last attorney for Todd Willingham, who fought for him through the execution and continues to fight to exonerate him), Terri Been whose brother Jeff Wood is on death row convicted under the Law of Parties even though he did not kill anyone, and Anna Terrell the mother of Reginald Blanton who is scheduled for execution in Texas on Oct 27 three days after the march, plus others to be announced.

The march starts at 2 PM on October 24 at the Texas Capitol. We will gather at the Texas Capitol at the gates leading into the Capitol on the sidewalk at 11th Street, march down Congress Avenue to 6th street, then back to the South Steps of the Capitol for a rally to abolish the death penalty.

From today's Waco Herald-Tribune:

The case of a Corsicana man executed in 2004 for arson murder will be at the center of an anti-death penalty rally today at the Texas Capitol.

Local attorney Walter M. Reaves Jr., who represented Cameron Todd Willingham during the final part of his appeals process, planned to attend the 10th annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty, along with four people who were exonerated after being on death row. The event is being organized by a number of groups that oppose the death penalty.

As part of the event, activists plan to deliver a petition to Gov. Rick Perry that urges him to say that the 1991 fire that killed Willingham's three young daughters was not arson, said Scott Cobb, president of the Texas Moratorium Network. It will also ask for Texas executions to be suspended and for Perry to appoint an impartial body to examine the state's death penalty system, he said.

Willingham's case, and the role Perry has played in the execution and subsequent investigation into whether it was flawed, has been in the national spotlight. Attention started mounting earlier this month after Perry abruptly replaced four people on the nine-member Texas Forensic Science Commission, including its chairman.


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