Weatherford Democrat

AP Story Section

January 12, 2009

Six Texas prisoners set to die in January

HUNTSVILLE (AP) — Texas is wasting little time this new year claiming its annual notoriety as the nation’s most active capital punishment state.

Convicted killer Curtis Moore, condemned for the slayings of three people during a drug-ripoff robbery in 1995 in Fort Worth, is set for lethal injection this week in what would be the first execution in the United States in 2009.

It’s the first of eight scheduled punishments this month in the U.S., all but two of them in Texas. The 18 prisoners put to death in Texas last year accounted for about half of the 37 executions carried out in the country. Since the U.S. Supreme Court in 1976 allowed capital punishment to resume, 423 Texas inmates have been put to death. Virginia was next with 102.

Moore, 40, was set to die Wednesday. Two more executions are set for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Huntsville Unit next week, then three more the following week.

The six Texas inmates set to die in January are among at least 14 with execution dates already this year. Three more are set to die in early February, four in March and another in April. Nationwide, they are among more than two dozen with dates already in 2009, according to statistics kept by the Death Penalty Information Center, a Washington, D.C. anti-death penalty group.

“The only thing I could speculate is it’s a result of the backlog created by the moratorium,” said Kristin Houle, executive director of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty.

A Supreme Court review of a Kentucky case that questioned whether lethal injections were unconstitutionally cruel stalled punishments from September 2007 until the justices last April okayed the method.

“There’s some general fallout from the fact we weren’t executing anyone for eight or nine months,” Houle said. “I think we’re seeing this throughout the country.”

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