Psalms 74:23 Forget not the voice of thine enemies:


Texas death machine: george w. and henry lee
by David McGowan ( - December 28, 2000
Two recent cases have generated considerable press coverage concerning the death penalty applications in the state of Texas under the governorship of George W. Bush. In both cases, there were questions raised as to the guilt of the condemned man.

The first case, that of Ricky Nolen McGinn, resulted in the first stay of execution issued by Governor Bush. Following quickly on the heels of this case was the scheduled execution of Gary Graham, a man convicted and sentenced to death solely on the testimony of a single eyewitness. Her testimony went unchallenged by Graham's defense counsel, who also failed to call a number of witnesses whose testimony would have pointed towards the innocence of the accused. Despite the mockery of a trial received by the condemned man, Bush allowed the execution to proceed.

This was far from being the first case where Bush allowed a man to be executed despite questions of innocence and serious improprieties that occurred during the condemned men's trials. A Chicago Tribune newspaper independent investigation revealed dozens of similar cases. Governor Bush has been extremely reluctant to exercise his 'compassionate conservatism' on behalf of any death row inmate whose case has come before him. Bush now has the rather dubious distinction of having presided over more executions than any governor in any state in the country's history has. He has accomplished this in just over five years.

Among those who have been put to death under Bush's tenure have been many who would not long ago have been considered ineligible for the ultimate punishment by the state, including women, the mentally ill, the mentally retarded, and those whose offenses were committed as juveniles. Bush has had no moral qualms with endorsing the executions of all such inmates whose cases have crossed his desk. In nearly 140 scheduled executions that the governor has presided over, in only one case has he granted clemency and spared the condemned man from his appointment with the executioner.

Strangely enough, this singular compassionate act by the governor has gone almost completely unmentioned by the mainstream media, even amidst the flurry of stories generated by the two previously mentioned cases. When McGinn was granted a stay of execution, many press accounts noted that this was the first stay issued by the governor, while avoiding mention altogether of the fact that Bush had previously granted an outright commutation. Other accounts claimed that the McGinn case was the first death penalty case in which Bush had taken any action.

Only a few media accounts made mention of the fact that Governor Bush had, in fact, intervened to stop the scheduled execution of a condemned man in June 1998. Virtually none of these accounts, however, made mention of who the recipient of this commutation was. And the recipient was, it should be noted, no garden-variety criminal. No, this was a very special case indeed, for the man whose life was spared by 'Law & Order' George was none other than serial killer Henry Lee Lucas. Lucas is not a garden-variety serial killer: he is probably the most prolific, and arguably the most brutal, serial killer in the American crime annals.

Why then was it this man, and he alone, who received clemency from the governor? Why has there been a nearly complete blackout of this story in the media? Why, for that matter, has there been no mention of it by any of Bush's presidential rivals, Republican or Democrat, despite its obvious power as a weapon in the current campaign?


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