- The Washington Times - Monday, January 13, 2003

HUNTSVILLE, Texas, Jan. 13 (UPI) — A robber who killed three people is scheduled to receive a lethal injection Tuesday in the first of 18 executions scheduled so far this year in Texas.

The execution of Samuel Gallamore will come as the 78th Texas Legislature convenes in Austin and another effort begins to impose a death penalty moratorium.

State Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, said Monday he knows passage of his bill will be difficult but he wants to spark another debate on the issue.

"We are not too unlike Illinois in terms of the issues raised there," he said. "We ought to be raising the same issues here."

Outgoing Illinois Gov. George Ryan granted blanket clemency to 157 death row inmates Saturday, commuting their sentences to life without parole because of questions he had about state's justice system.

Moratorium proposals were introduced in the last Texas Legislature but they never reached the floor. Dutton believes his measure might get further along this session with the renewed national debate.

Dutton noted last session the Legislature did take time to review the state's charter school program.

"I think the death penalty deserves at least a greater consideration than charter schools might be given, particularly where the state is going to exact the ultimate penalty," he said.

Dutton said there are too many problems with the current Texas death penalty process.

"Our system has a big hole in it that innocent people can slip through and for that reason I am unalterably opposed to the Texas death penalty," he said.

Two years ago, a study by the Texas Defender Service found legislative changes had been ineffective in improving legal representation for defendants or bringing meaningful review of cases.

Supporters of the death penalty said they would oppose a moratorium as they have in the past.

"Currently it's an average time of 10 years before an execution, what will 12 years do?" asked Dianne Clements, president of Justice for All, a victims' advocates group in Houston.

"There is no reason to have a moratorium. There is nothing credible or relevant that a moratorium will accomplish other than delaying the execution of guilty capital murderers."

Eighteen convicted killers are currently scheduled for execution at the death chamber in Huntsville, the busiest in the nation. Thirty-three were executed last year and 289 have been put to death in Texas since the state resumed the death penalty in 1982.

Republican Gov. Rick Perry, a death penalty supporter, has rejected requests to impose a moratorium in Texas as did his predecessor, Gov. George W. Bush. About 73 percent of Texans favored the death penalty in a poll conducted last June by the Scripps-Howard Data Center.

Gallamore, the first to face the execution in 2003, was sentenced to death for the 1994 murders of Julianna Kenney, Verle Clayton Kenney and Adrienne Arnot in Kerr County, near Austin. They were beaten and stabbed to death in a robbery.

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(Reported by Phil Magers in Dallas)




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