Richard Wayne Jones

Executed August 22, 2000 by Lethal Injection in Texas


61st murderer executed in U.S. in 2000
659th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
30th murderer executed in Texas in 2000
229th murderer executed in Texas since 1976


Since 1976
Date of Execution
State
Method
Murderer
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
Date of
Birth
Victim(s)
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
Date of
Murder
Method of
Murder
Relationship
to Murderer
Date of
Sentence
659
08-22-00
TX
Lethal Injection
Richard Wayne Jones

W / M / 25 - 40

04-09-60
Tammy Livingston

W / F / 27

02-19-86
Stabbing with knife x17
None
07-24-87

Summary:
Richard Wayne Jones was convicted and sentenced to death for the February 1986 murder of Tammy Livingston in Hurst, Texas. Jones followed Livingston as she was leaving a store at about 7:30 p.m. As Livingston was backing out of a parking space, Jones ran to the back of her car, opened her car door and then forced himself into the driver's seat. Later that evening, between 9:20 and 9:45, a Fort Worth resident heard screams coming from a vacant property. At about 11:20 that same evening, the Fort Worth Fire Department responded to a grass fire in the same area where someone had heard screams. It was there that firefighters discovered the charred remains of Tammy Livingston. Authorities determined that Livingston had been stabbed 17 times in the face and neck. The morning after Jones was arrested, an eyewitness to Livingston's kidnapping from the Michael's parking lot picked Jones out of a police line-up. Jones' fingerprint was found inside the Livingston vehicle. Jones also signed a confession, admitting to the kidnapping and murder of Tammy Livingston. Jones had been out of prison for less than five months when he committed this murder.

Citations:
Jones v State, 843 S.W.2nd 487 (Tex. 1992) (Direct Appeal).

Internet Sources:

Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Executed Offenders (Richard W. Jones)

Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Texas Attorney General

MEDIA ADVISORY: Richard Wayne Jones Scheduled to be Executed.

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Richard Wayne Jones who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 22nd. Richard Wayne Jones was convicted and sentenced to death for the February 1986 murder of Tammy Livingston in Hurst, Texas. Livingston was stabbed to death 17 times and then the area around her body was set on fire.

Jones followed Livingston as she was leaving a Michael's store at about 7:30 p.m. As Livingston was backing out of a parking space, Jones ran to the back of her car, opened her car door and then forced himself into the driver's seat. Later that evening, between 9:20 and 9:45, a Fort Worth resident heard screams coming from a vacant property. At about 11:20 that same evening, the Fort Worth Fire Department responded to a grass fire in the same area where someone had heard screams. It was there that firefighters discovered the charred remains of Tammy Livingston. Authorities determined that Livingston had been stabbed 17 times in the face and neck.

The night after Livingston's murder, Jones bought a pair of boots with a credit card in the name of Tammy Livingston. Later that night, Jones and a woman tried to buy groceries at a Fort Worth Safeway with a check from the account of Tammy and Russell Livingston. The woman with Jones, Yelena Comalander, was arrested for trying to pass someone else's check. The next morning, Livingston's car was recovered from a parking lot in Fort Worth. Jones' left thumb print was found on the inside of the front window of the driver's side of the car. Police also found several of Livingston's belongings including her engagement ring and her inscribed wedding band, at an apartment that Yelena Comalander took them to. Police arrested Jones a short time later.

The morning after Jones was arrested, an eyewitness to Livingston's kidnapping from the Michael's parking lot picked Jones out of a police line-up. Physical evidence also linked Jones to Livingston's murder. Jones also signed a written statement, admitting to the kidnapping and murder of Tammy Livingston. Jones had been out of prison for less than five months when he committed this murder.

EVIDENCE

Jones signed a written statement admitting to kidnapping and murdering Tammy Livingston. Jones' thumb print was found inside the front window of Tammy Livingston's car. An eyewitness who saw Jones kidnap Livingston from the Michael's parking lot picked Jones out of a police line-up. A pair of jeans and a shirt Jones was wearing the night of Livingston's murder were found to have blood on them that was the same blood type as Livingston's. Jones bought a pair of boots with a credit card in the name of Tammy Livingston, the night after Livingston was murdered. Jones and another woman, Yelena Comalander, tried to buy groceries with a check that was traced to the account of Tammy and Russell Livingston.

APPEALS TIME-LINE

Sept. 23, 1992 - Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Jones' conviction and death sentence.
Nov. 4, 1992 - Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied rehearing.
April 19, 1993 - U.S. Supreme Court denied Jones' petition for writ of certiorari.
May 25, 1994 - Court of Criminal Appeals denied state habeas relief based on the trial court's recommendation for denial.
June 28, 1994 - Court of Criminal Appeals denied Jones' request for reconsideration.
Oct. 29, 1998 - District Court entered final judgment denying federal habeas relief.
April 7, 2000 - Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed district court's denial of relief.
To date, Jones' petition for writ of certiorari to the U.S. Supreme Court is pending.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

Testimony at the punishment phase of Jones' trial indicated that:
Jones pled guilty in January 1978 to burglary for which he was placed on probation.
That probation was revoked which resulted in Jones spending five years in jail.
Jones pled guilty in January 1979 to three counts of felony theft of property in Tarrant County. He was sentenced to seven years in jail.
Jones pled guilty in August 1983 to aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon in Tarrant County. He was sentenced to seven years in jail.
The manager of a Taco Bell in Grand Prairie testified at trial that he had identified Jones as one of two men who robbed the restaurant on Aug. 2, 1982. The manager testified that Jones held a gun on employees during the robbery.
A county jailer testified that while Jones' murder trial was going on, weapons (toothbrush with a razor attached and a razor blade) were found in his cell.

ProDeathPenalty.Com

Richard Wayne Jones was arrested Feb. 21, 1986 -- two days after Tammy Livingston, 27, was abducted, stabbed and set ablaze -- when he attempted to have his girlfriend cash one of the victim's checks. Jones, who had previous convictions for theft and burglary, had been on parole less than four months for aggravated robbery. Jones confessed to the murder after his girlfriend told police that he had given her the murdered girl's checks to cash. Besides his confession, Jones' fingerprint was found inside the victim's car, an eyewitness in the store parking lot from where Livingston was taken identified Jones as the woman's abductor and clothing worn by Jones that night had blood spots that matched her blood type.

Texas Execution Information Center

Richard Wayne Jones, 40, was executed by lethal injection on 22 August in Huntsville, Texas for the murder of a 27-year-old woman.

On 19 February 1986, Tammy Livingston was abducted from a parking lot in the Fort Worth area. A few hours later, her body was discovered by firefighters called to a grass fire. She had been stabbed more than a dozen times, one wound slashing her carotid artery. The day after the murder, Yelena Comalander was arrested trying to pass one of Livingston's checks at a Fort Worth grocery store. She told police that her boyfriend, Richard Jones, had given her the checks. At the time, Comalander, 18, was pregnant with Jones' child. Jones, then 26, was arrested at his home the following day. Police confiscated the clothes he had been wearing the day of the killing. They found two small spots of blood on the left leg of his jeans, which matched Livingston. Jones' fingerprint was found inside the victim's car, and he confessed to the killing to police.

Jones had been previously convicted of burglary of a habitation and three counts of larceny. He began serving concurrent 5-year and 7-year sentences in February 1979. He was paroled in August 1981. In September 1983, he was convicted of aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon and received another 7-year sentence. He was paroled again in October 1985. (During this time frame, the Texas prison system was under the supervision of U.S. District Judge William Wayne Justice, whose strict prison population caps forced the state to release offenders early.) Jones had been on parole for about 4Ĺ months when Livingston was killed.

At his trial, Jones said he had nothing to do with Livingston's murder. He said that the checks had come from Walter Sellers, a friend of his sister, Brenda. He claimed that his confession to police was coerced -- that they told him his girlfriend would be executed and their child would be taken by the state unless he confessed. A police officer acknowledged telling Jones this, but the next day, he recanted this testimony, saying that he wasn't paying attention to the question. Jones could not explain the blood on his jeans, and an eyewitness identified him as the person who abducted Livingston from the parking lot. This, plus the fingerprint and his confession, persuaded the jury to return a guilty verdict.

In July 1993, Jones was scheduled to be executed. Four days before his execution date, he wrote a letter from death row explaining his account of the day Livingston was killed. According to Jones, he spent the day working with his father, then had dinner at home with Comalander. His sister Brenda unexpectedly dropped by as he was getting ready for bed and asked for a ride to a friend's house. On the way, she began crying and told him that she and Sellers had robbed and killed two people. When they arrived, he asked Sellers, "You killed them?" and he answered "Yes we did." Brenda cried some more, saying they needed to bury the bodies and they needed his help because he was the only person they could trust. Sellers showed Jones where Livingston's body was dumped and gave him the victim's possessions in return for his help. Later, Jones returned, doused the area with gasoline, and set it on fire.

Jones wrote that he deserved to be punished, but not for murder. He also wrote that he didn't believe Brenda killed Tammy Livingston. "It's my understanding ... that she was just there." However, he also believed that she could keep him from being executed. He wrote that he lied about Tammy Livingston's death to protect his sister. "I was thinking at the time that my sister ... wouldn't let her brother be put to sleep like an old sick dog for something her and her dope-head friend done." A day after writing this letter, Jones received a stay of execution.

Jones' defense team argued that his account explained the evidence better than the prosecution's version. If Jones killed Livingston, they say, there would have been much more blood than two small spots on his pants leg. They say that he got the spots on his jeans from walking through tall grass that had been splattered with blood. Further, they argue that the eyewitness who tied Jones to Livingston's abduction gave a conflicting physical description -- she described the suspect as clean-shaven, yet Jones had a moustache when she picked him out of the lineup.

In the years since the killing, five people have given statements that support Jones' version of events. Scott Christian said Sellers tried to sell him credit cards and checks and that he "had blood splatters on his T-shirt, and on his hands and forearms." Christian was called to testify at Jones' trial, but as a local drug figure, he invoked his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination and did not testify. James Richard King said he saw Sellers in a bloody shirt wanting to sell checks in early 1986. Douglas Wayne Daffern said he saw Sellers with credit cards and checks bearing the name Livingston. King and Daffern, two more drug associates of Sellers, were both called to testify, but could not be found.

Terry L. Gravelle related a conversation he had with Sellers in jail, where Sellers said that Jones was innocent and chuckled about his conviction. He said that Sellers told him "there was a problem using the stolen checks or cards" and that he subsequently gave them to Jones. Finally, Robert Dean Miller, another jailmate of Sellers, said that he told him Jones was innocent. Gravelle and Miller were not discovered until after Jones was convicted. In a recent death-row interview, Jones said that his claim of innocence would have been believed if not for his past convictions. "My past haunted me," Jones said. "That's what hurt most."

A week before Jones' execution, a state district judge refused to halt it. His defense lawyers failed to persuade officials to delay his execution so DNA tests could be conducted on crime-scene evidence. The day before his execution, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Jones' appeals. His request for a stay was denied by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, and Lt. Gov. Rick Perry, responsible for handling the case with Gov. George W. Bush out of the state, declined to issue an emergency stay. At his execution, Jones said, "I want the victim's family to know that I didn't commit this crime." Turning to Tammy Livingston's relatives, he said, "I didn't kill your loved one." He told the prosecutor, "Sharon Wilson, y'all convicted and innocent man and you know it. There are some lawyers hired that is gonna prove that, and I hope you can live with it." He then expressed love to his family. He was pronounced dead at 6:19 p.m. Yelena Comalander was convicted of forgery and perjury in 1987 and was put on 8 years' probation.

Walter Sellers, now 52, has been in and out of custody on a variety of theft, fraud, and drug charges since the murder. He is currently serving a federal sentence for mail theft. He denies any role in Livingston's murder. Brenda Jones was on probation for a drug conviction at the time of the murder. She also has denied any role in the slaying. Regarding her brothers' claims that she had knowledge that could have saved his life, she has refused to comment.

lairdcarlson.com

Allegation

On August 22, 2000, the State of Texas, with the acquiescence of the federal government, executed Richard Wayne Jones by lethal injection. The state and federal governments failed to ensure Jonesís right to a fair and impartial trial. The unfair trial resulted in Jonesís execution.

Crime

On February 19, 1986, Tammy Livingston was abducted, robbed, and then stabbed 19 times and murdered. Her body was left in a field and, later, set on fire. The next day, a woman was arrested while trying to cash checks belonging to the victim. Under interrogation, the woman said she had obtained the checks from her boyfriend, Richard Jones. Jones was arrested that evening and was subsequently charged with and convicted of the crimes.

Salient Issues

After 12 hours of interrogation and 21 hours in custody without food or sleep, during which police exerted undue influence by threatening Jones and his pregnant girlfriend with the death penalty if he did not confess, Jones confessed. He signed the confession under duress, only after he was told that his girlfriendís release was contingent upon his signing the statement. Jonesís girlfriend signed two statements implicating Jones, but alleged that police changed her words when writing them down. She claimed the police told her that Jones had fled, and she was going to have to take the rap for the murder.

Three eyewitnesses to the abduction provided a description of the suspect as a clean-cut, white male with reddish-brown hair, who was wearing a red shirt the night of the murder. Jones had blonde hair, a mustache, and was wearing a brown and gray plaid shirt the night of the murder. Two of the three eyewitnesses to the abduction failed to identify Jones in a line-up. Their failure to identify him was omitted from the police report. One eyewitness identified Jones, even though he did not fit her original description. Despite the bloodiness of the murder, only two small spots of blood were found on Jonesís jeans, and no blood was found on his shirt. According to Jones, his sister admitted to him that she and her boyfriend, Walt Sellers, committed the crimes.

From the time he was arrested, Jones maintained that Sellers was the actual killer. Two witnesses gave sworn statements that they heard Sellers implicate himself in the murder. Witnesses corroborated Jonesís testimony that Sellers had tried to sell items belonging to the victim. Jones had an IQ of 75 and was considered borderline retarded. DNA testing was requested and denied prior to execution.

Trial

Richard Wayne Jones was convicted of Tammy Livingstonís murder largely on the basis of his coerced confession. While in police custody, Jones was denied food and sleep for 21 hours, and was threatened with the death penalty for himself and his girlfriend if he did not confess. The circumstances under which he confessed were coercive, particularly for a man who was diagnosed as being border-line mentally retarded and had grown up in state schools Ė the last of which had been closed down for brutality. The evidence was overwhelmingly circumstantial and contradictory. Although there were three eyewitnesses, only one identified Jones in a police lineup. Jones, however, did not fit her original description of the abductor. A second witness failed to identify Jones in a police line-up.

Jonesís sister, a drug addict, admitted to Jones that she and her boyfriend, Walt Sellers, committed the crimes. Sellers was never investigated as a possible suspect, despite his convictions for similar crimes during the period of 1985 to 1987. Sellers was arrested with a dagger one month after the murder. The Fort Worth Police confiscated the dagger and had it in their locker room at the time of Jonesís pre-trial investigation, but never subjected it to forensic testing. It was later destroyed. Three witnesses provided sworn statements that Sellers had been in possession of the victimís property shortly after the murder. After Jonesís trial and conviction, two other witnesses gave affidavits in which they stated that Sellers told them he knew Jones was innocent.

Appeals

Jonesís trial lawyer filed his initial state appeals, which were denied. On November 1, 1993, Jones filed an application for post conviction habeas corpus. After an evidentiary hearing, the trial court recommended relief be denied. The Court of Criminal Appeals adopted the recommendation, May 25, 1994. After obtaining new counsel, Jones was allowed to return to state appeals courts to raise issues, such as lack of effective trial counsel, which had not been raised by Jonesís original lawyer. Jones filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus in federal district court on August 12, 1994. It was dismissed because several state issues were not resolved. He reapplied for state relief and was denied again with the Court of Criminal Appeals adopting the denial. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed his conviction in an unpublished opinion on April 7, 2000. The U.S. Supreme Court denied hearing his case.

Conclusion

Richard Wayne Jones was executed despite compelling evidence of his innocence that was never sufficiently considered by any court in the United States. He was convicted largely on the basis of a confession obtained under coercion and duress. Both the state and federal courts failed to protect Jonesís right to a fair trial by sanctioning the trial courtís use of the coerced confession to convict Jones. State and federal appeals courts denied the legal challenge to Jonesís conviction and the evidence of innocence uncovered after his conviction. Despite being subjected to police coercion, in violation of his constitutional and international human rights, and irrespective of evidence of his innocence, Jones was executed.

Richard Jones Webpage

LEGAL PROCEEDINGS For the alleged killing of a 29-year old woman, who was abducted from a parking lot on February 19th 1986, Richard Wayne Jones was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death in the 213th Criminal District Court of Tarrant County, Texas in July 1987 and on April 29th 1992 the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed his conviction. Since then Richard has had 4 execution dates - namely July 15th 1993, November 2nd 1993, August 8th 1994 and April 12th 1995. A few hours before being strapped down on the gurney, the Federal Court of Appeals granted Richard an indefinite stay of execution. On October 15th 1996, Richardís petition for Habeas Corpus and motion for an evidentiary hearing was denied by the United States Magistrate Judge. On October 30th, 1998, Judge Terry Means ruled against Richard with regard to his last legal filing. In the first months of 2000, the 5th Circuit rejected Richard's case and now a new - serious - execution date has been set: AUGUST 22, 2000.

We pay the costs of the private investigator out of our own funds. This is a lot of money. Contribution to a fund for these costs are higly appreciated. Such can be paid to: Fund for Life Switzerland Basel Postal Account Number 40-8628-0 Please remark ďContribution for Richard Wayne-JonesĒ. Thank you !.

SUMMMARY OF HIS CASE

Richard asserted his innocence from the beginning and said that the crime was committed by one of his sisters and her boyfriend who abducted, robbed and killed the victim. Richard says that his sister then came to him and asked him to buy the stolen goods. Richard did buy them and gave the goods to his girlfriend who was caught trying to cash one of the stolen checks. Richard told this to the police but he was never believed even so the only evidence against him was the possession of the stolen goods. There were fingerprints and hair samples taken from the crime scene and from the victimís car as well as other evidence which would have proven Richardís innocence but were never tested nor identified. Being poor, Richard could not hire a private lawyer at trial nor at appeal. He was given State appointed lawyers.

An eyewitness told the police that the man who abducted the woman was wearing blue-jeans and a red shirt, that he had brown hair and was clean shaven. This statement does not match with Richard. He is blond, had a moustache and was wearing that night a brown checked shirt. However, it could match his sisterís boyfriend who has brown hair and was clean shaven at the time. At the trial the same witness testified against Richard. Since Richard testified that he was never at the store where the victim had been abducted, her testimony was extremely important in the States case and it was crucial for the Jury. This witness was on deferred probation but the Jury was not allowed to hear that the prosecutors sponsoring her testimony were from the same office which had prosecuted her and who could bring revocation proceedings against her. It would have been crucial for the Jury to know that her independence was compromised.

According to the Grand Jury testimony offered by 3 witnesses, the boyfriend of Richardís sister was trying to sell checks and credit cards after the murder. One of the witnesses also said that the name on those documents was the name of the victim. The same witness also testified that when the boyfriend of Richardís sister went to his house and sought to sell the victimís property the night of the murder, he had blood spots on his shirt and pants. The jury never heard these things and the effect of these exclusions are undeniable. At the trial Richard pleaded his innocence. He explained that he had got the property from his sisterís boyfriend. All of the witnesses supporting him, were for one reason or another unavailable to him at the time of trial, but they had testified before the Tarrant County Grand Jury where they had been subject to cross-examination by the same prosecutor who had tried Richard. By refusing to admit the Grand Jury testimony of all these witnesses, the trial court deprived Richard of all evidence corroborating his defence and therefore denied him his constitutional right to due process. The jury never heard any evidence supporting his defence.

The testimony of Richardís girlfriend was also crucial to his defence. She was with him during the period of time immediately after he was supposed to have committed the murder. She corroborated his story about the victimís property. At the same time she was charged with forgery in connection with passing the checks and was appointed counsel. The Assistant District Attorney approached her and her lawyer and offered her ten years probation on the charges in exchange for testifying before the Grand Jury against Richard. She accepted this deal and was granted immunity by the State. However, she refused to testify at trial , asserting her 5th Amendment right against self incrimination. This governmental interference deprived Richard of his fundamental right to present this key witness.

When he returned to the Trial Court on his first application for a writ of Habeas Corpus, and also later on, he was again thwarted in his attempts to present his story to the fact-finder. He has never been given any chance to prove his asserted innocence. Through the actions of the State and the Trial Court, and the mistakes of Richardís State appointed lawyers, Richard has been denied the fundamental right to present evidence in his own defence. The State was able to do anything they wanted to, whereas the defence was denied each and every request. Richard was sentenced to death because of his past.

HIS LIFE

Richard Wayne Jones was born on April 9th 1960 in Fort Worth, Texas. In the Jonesí family there were 5 daughters and Richard was the only son. Both his parents were alcohol abusers and were very violent. They abused all the children physically and verbally, but as he was the youngest child, Richard suffered particularly. The family was for Richard a place of fear and mistrust. When he was about 8 years old he began to run away, because of his parentsí bad treatment. When he was about 10 or 11 he began stealing - the only way he knew to attract attention. In 1971 he was committed to the custody of the Berean Boys Ranch. During the three years he spent there his parents almost never went to see him. The people who took care of him during that period said that Richard was a very good hard-working boy, that he never gave problems to anyone and that he just needed to feel wanted and loved. On May 31st 1974 he was returned home to live with his parents, but in late August 1974 they brought him back to the Ranch voluntarily and left him there to stay. On July 15th 1975, after committing a theft, Richard was sent to the Gatesville Youth Facility , which was infamous for its brutality and inhumanity. During this time he made two suicide attempts. He cried out for help but all his cries fell on deaf ears. Richardís story is one of coercion, victimisation and rejection. As an adult he was in prison twice, for theft, then he found a job and settled down. But pain and injustice were his destiny. Richard was convicted for a crime which he did not commit and wrongly sentenced to death because of his past.

This is just a brief summary. Many more facts and new evidence - now available - would convince any fair minded person that the wrong person has been convicted.

RICHARD JONES COMMITEE (arianna@linknet.it)

www.deathrow.at

RICHARD WAYNE JONES - Executed on August 22, 2000.

Richard asserted his innocence from the beginning and said that the crime was committed by one of his sisters and her boyfriend who abducted, robbed and killed the victim. Richard says that his sister then came to him and asked him to buy the stolen goods. Richard did buy them and gave the goods to his girlfriend who was caught trying to cash one of the stolen checks. Richard told this to the police but he was never believed even so the only evidence against him was the possession of the stolen goods. There were fingerprints and hair samples taken from the crime scene and from the victimís car as well as other evidence which would have proven Richardís innocence but were never tested nor identified.

THE TRAGIC DEATH OF RICKY JONES: EXECUTED IN SPITE OF INNOCENCE

There are only a few prisoners on Texas Death Row that I personally know. Ricky Jones was one of them. Ricky was executed by the State of Texas on August 22, 2000, despite strong claims of innocence. His lawyers asked the state for time to conduct DNA testing that they believed would prove Ricky's innocence, but the authorities, intent on having the execution proceed without a hitch, denied their request. It would not have taken long to run these tests. I have never understood why Texas seems so intent on executing people rather than saving their lives.

I came to know Ricky because some of his friends from Italy who believed in his innocence asked if we could videotape an interview of him which they would use to raise money for his legal defense. The interview was done at the Ellis Unit Death Row in Huntsville, Texas, by Ray Hill of the KPFT Prison Program. My son, Richard, who is good with a videocamera, taped the interview.

I traveled to Ft. Worth a couple of times with our Italian friends, Arianna and Biagio, to meet Ricky's lawyer and family. His lawyer, William Harris, expressed his belief that Ricky was innocent of the murder which put him on death row. The evidence in the case pointed to the boyfriend of Ricky's sister. I wrote and visited Ricky a number of times over the years. He appreciated the friendship and always expressed thanks for the help that people were giving him, particularly his European supporters. He always maintained his innocence.

Friends who visited Ricky a few days prior to his execution noted how pale and drawn he looked. This was undoubtedly due in part to the stress of his pending execution. However, I suspect it was also due to the solitary confinement conditions at the Terrell Unit where the death row prisoners are now housed. Prisoners are kept in tiny 9X5 foot cells for 23 hours a day. They are no longer allowed to recreate together during their one hour out of the cell. The work program that existed at the Ellis Unit has been eliminated. The arts and crafts program has been curtailed. Church services are no longer allowed. There are no TVs. These conditions of isolation cause mental problems and would certainly be considered cruel and unusual punishment by any society that dared to call itself "civilized".

A few hours before the execution, Ricky's family and friends visited with him via telephone from the Hospitality House in Huntsville. I really did not want to talk to him because I didn't know what to say. (What do you say to a man who is about to be executed?) In spite of his innocence, we had failed to save his life. However, I summoned up my courage and talked to him for a few minutes. I told Ricky that I admired his courage under the worst of circumstances and would be praying for him. I also vowed to him that we would continue our fight against the death penalty in Texas. In a voice of quiet despair, Ricky expressed thanks for my friendship and for doing what we could to help him.

Ricky's execution was witnessed by four of his close supporters from Europe. His last words were "I want the victim's family to know that I didn't commit this crime. I didn't kill your loved one. Sharon Wilson, y'all convicted an innocent man and you know it. There are some lawyers hired that are gonna prove that, and I hope you can live with it. To my family and loved ones, I love you. Thank you for supporting me. Y'all stay strong. Warden, bring it on...." The rest of us stood outside the prison to honor Ricky's life and to protest what was happening inside the prison walls. The pain was excruciating for all of us, but particularly for Ricky's friends from Europe.

Following the execution, a number of us went to the Huntsville Funeral Home where we understood we could touch Ricky's body and say goodbye to him. No one, including close family members, had been able to touch Ricky while he was in prison because contact visits are not allowed. This holds true even on the day of execution. Personally, I consider this extreme cruelty on the part of the prison system. However, when we arrived at the funeral home, the proprietor refused to show us Ricky's body, saying that he did not have the "authority" to do so. This obstruction by the proprietor of the funeral home meant that some of Ricky's friends from Europe who could not attend the funeral in Ft. Worth would never see him again. In my opinion, this was part of the disrespect of families and friends of prisoners which is so common in the prison system.

Ricky, we say goodbye to you for now, but we want you to know that you did not die in vain. Your death, like those before and after you, will help bring down this evil system of executions which has such a grasp on Texas. We will remember you, our brother.

Dave Atwood, President
Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

(This essay is dedicated to Ricky Jones and his supporters in Europe: Arianna Ballotta and Biagio Santoro, Wendy and Jakob Schmid, Michela and Carlo Mancini, and Marianne Zimmer.)