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 Writer's Desk  ... introducing NCR's mission of faith and justice based journalism

October 26, 2004
Vol. 2, No. 28



Update: Texas Lifts Reprieve, Executes Inmate
    U.S. District Judge Nancy Atlas had blocked Dominique Green's execution after his attorneys argued that boxes of improperly stored and catalogued evidence, kept by the crime lab and recently discovered, could contain information relevant to the case.
    The state attorney general's office objected to the reprieve, which was then lifted by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to grant a last-minute stay.
    Green was pronounced dead at 7:59 p.m. Oct. 26.
    For more on this story, see these stories: Green executed.

Dennis Coday Texas death watch

Dennis Coday, NCR staff writer

The Texas parole board rejected an appeal from Dominique Green, the death row inmate who wrote an essay, More Than Just A Rosary in the Oct. 15 issue of National Catholic Reporter.

Green, 30, is to be executed by lethal injection today at 6 p.m. unless Gov. Rick Perry commutes his sentence. There is also a slight chance that a court could order a stay.

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Green was convicted of shooting to death Andrew Lastrapes Jr. during a robbery in Huston 12 years ago. He would be the 18th Texas inmate put to death this year and the fifth this month. Another six are to die in November.

David Atwood, the Huston coordinator for Pax Christi, has known Green for eight years. He, other supporters and a legal team will be with Green this morning until about noon when he will be moved from the death row cell block in Livingston, Texas, to the execution site in the state prison at Huntsville.

Green met yesterday with Andre Lastrapes, the son of the murdered man, their first face to face meeting, Atwood told NCR this morning. Andre and his family have been outspoken in calling for a commuting of Green's sentence.

Andre's mother, the victim's wife, Bernatte Luckett Lastrapes, wrote a letter last week to Gov. Perry and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles: "All of us have forgiven Dominique for what happened and want to give him another chance at life. Everyone deserves another chance."

During an Oct. 19 news conference, called by Green's legal team and supporters, Andre asked that Green be spared the death penalty. "Killing him ain't going to bring my daddy back," the Houston Chronicle quoted him as saying.

Bishop Joseph A. Fiorenza of Galveston-Huston joined the news conference in support of Green.

Atwood said Green and Andre Lastrapes meet for about an hour and a half Monday afternoon and he is convinced the two found reconciliation. "They got a good chance to talk. Dominique expressed sorrow for what happened and expressed gratitude to Andre that he had spoken out against the exceuction. So it was pretty good and pretty amazing," he said.

"He and Dominique hit if off so well he [Andre] wanted to go back today. In fact, he will probably go over to the other prison where they have the executions," Atwood said.

Atwood has been on a bread and water fast since Oct. 5. He will end the fast today.

Key evidence at Green's trial was a ballistics test performed by the Huston police crime lab. In August, police discovered that the crime lab had mishandled some 280 boxes of evidence involving some 8,000 cases covering more than a decade.

Green's defense team has filed a motion asking that his execution be stayed until the lab can determine whether evidence in Green's case was compromised. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals struck down a similar motion last week, although in a dissent from the majority decision, one judge said all executions in cases whose convictions rested on evidence processed at the Huston police crime lab should be postponed until the evidence can be independently verified.

Dennis Coday is an NCR staff writer and coordinates the NCR Web site. His e-mail address is dcoday@ncronline.org.
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