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EXTRA 56/93 - USA (Texas): death penalty: Denton Crank, Markham Duff-Smith

, Index number: AMR 51/053/1993

The above named men both face imminent execution. Denton Crank, white, is scheduled to be executed on 15 June 1993. Markham Duff-Smith, white, is scheduled to be executed on 29 June 1993. A co-defendant of Markham Duff- Smith is currently awaiting retrial after his death sentence was reversed on appeal.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 51/53/93
Distr: UA/SC
EXTRA 56/93 Death Penalty 10 June 1993
USA (Texas): Denton CRANK
Markham DUFF-SMITH
Amnesty International is concerned that two prisoners are scheduled to be
executed imminently in Texas, USA. Denton Crank, white, is scheduled to be
executed on 15 June 1993, and Markham Duff-Smith, also white, on 29 June 1993.
Markham Duff-Smith was convicted on charges that he allegedly hired a third
party to murder his mother. He was sentenced to death in August 1981. A
co-defendant was also sentenced to death, and is currently awaiting retrial
after his death sentence was reversed on appeal.
Denton Crank was sentenced to death on 25 June 1985 for the murder of a white
male.
Amnesty International opposes the death penalty in all cases as a violation
of the right to life, and the right not to be subjected to cruel, inhuman and
degrading treatment or punishment, as enshrined in the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Amnesty International has mounting concerns regarding the death penalty in
Texas. The state leads the nation in carrying out executions; many prisoners
do not have legal representation to present their appeals; and it continues
to schedule executions of juvenile offenders, flouting international standards.
Most prisoners under sentence of death in Texas were sentenced under a statute
which severely restricted the consideration of mitigating circumstances at
their sentencing hearing. In September 1991, this statute was changed to allow
for the consideration of any mitigating circumstance to be taken into account.
However, the new law has not been applied retroactively. A major study on
racial discrimination conducted in the 1970s found that, in Texas, offenders
who killed white victims were several times more likely to be sentenced to
death than offenders who killed black victims. Under Texas clemency rules,
the governor may commute a sentence of death only if she receives a favourable
recommendation from a majority of the Board. Apart from a number of
commutations granted in the 1980s as the result of a key court ruling, the
Board has never recommended clemency in any death penalty case in recent years.
Texas has the largest number of people under sentence of death than any other
US state. As of 20 April 1993, there were 376 prisoners under sentence of
death in Texas. The most recent person to be executed was Christopher Sawyers,
on 18 May 1993. The method of execution is lethal injection.
Page 2 of EXTRA 56/93
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters in English if possible:
Appeals to Governor Richards and Board of Pardons and paroles:
- expressing concern that Denton Crank and Markham Duff-Smith are scheduled
to be executed in Texas on 15 June and 29 June;
Appeals to the Board of Pardons and Paroles ONLY:
- urging that the Board recommend that Governor Richards grant clemency to
Denton Crank and Markham Duff-Smith.
Appeals to Both:
- expressing deep concern at the increasing numbers of executions being
scheduled in Texas, and at the state's high rate of executions.
APPEALS TO:
1) Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard, PO Box 13401
Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711-3401
USA
Telegrams: Texas Board Pardons/Paroles, Austin, TX
78711, USA
Faxes: +1 512 467 0945
Telephone: +1 512 406 5852
Salutation: Dear Board Members
2) The Honorable Ann Richards
Governor of Texas
Office of the Governor
PO Box 12428, Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711
USA
Telegrams: Governor Richards, Austin, Texas 78711, USA
Telephone: + 512 463 2000
Faxes: +1 512 463 1849
Telexes: 910 874 1849
Salutation: Dear Governor
COPIES TO:
The Letters Editor
Houston Chronicle
801 Texas Avenue
Houston, TX 77002
USA
Faxes: +1 713 220 7868
and to diplomatic representatives of USA accredited to your country. The World
Conference on Human Rights is being held in Austria this month and you can
enhance the power of your appeals by also sending copies to the diplomatic
representative of USA in Austria during June at the following address:
USA EMBASSY:
The Ambassador
Botschaft der Vereinigten Staaten von Amerika
Boltzmanngasse 16, 1090 Wien
Austria
Faxes: +43 222 310 06 82
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY, TO ARRIVE BY 14 JUNE ON BEHALF OF DENTON CRANK,
AND 28 JUNE ON BEHALF OF MARKHAM DUFF-SMITH.

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