USA: Further information on death penalty / legal concern: Kenneth Ransom:
Kenneth Ransom was executed, as scheduled, in Texas on 28 October 1997.
EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 51/66/97
30 October 1997
Further information on EXTRA 137/97 (AMR 51/61/97, 15 October 1997) - Death
Penalty / Legal concern
USA (TEXAS)Kenneth Ransom
Amnesty International very much regrets that Kenneth Ransom was executed, as
scheduled, in Texas on 28 October 1997.
The execution went ahead despite a new statement from Ransom’s co-defendant
James Randle, stating that he was responsible for the stabbing deaths of three
of the four victims; Richard Wilkerson, who was executed in Texas in 1993,
admitted killing the fourth victim. Although only 16 years old at the time
of the murders, Randle had an extensive history of violence. His psychiatric
history indicates that he was an extremely volatile person who occasionally
became violent without provocation. Randle corroborated Ransom’s trial
testimony that Ransom was unaware of the plan to rob the Malibu Grand Prix
race track. Randle also admitted that when Ransom attempted to disengage himself
from the crime, he attempted to stab Ransom, wounding Ransom’s hand as he tried
to defend himself.
Ransom’s current defence attorneys argued in last-minute appeals that the new
evidence from Randle made Ransom’s death sentence disproportionate to his role
in the crime. However, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and the US Supreme
Court denied the appeal.
In a last statement, Kenneth Ransom proclaimed his innocence, apologised for
the pain suffered by the victim’s families and spoke at length to his mother.
He also stated: “I did not kill no one, but I feel like this is the Lord’s
will that will be done. I feel like I am an instrument in, hopefully, abolishing
the death penalty forever.”
Ransom’s mother, Pearlie Ransom, screamed, collapsed and had to be assisted
from the execution viewing chamber by prison officials immediately after the
Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Pierre Sané (who met Kenneth Ransom
when he led an official AI delegation that visited Texas’ death row on 9 October
1997) condemned the execution: “The state of Texas has let Kenneth Ransom down
for his entire life. First the state failed to protect him from the abuse he
suffered from his family. Then they subjected him to criminal justice
proceedings while not providing him with adequate legal representation. The
appeal process failed miserably to correct this situation, thereby allowing
the state of Texas to commit the ultimate human rights violation on Mr Ransom
- the death penalty. I condemn the madness of executions in Texas and pledge
that Amnesty International will strengthen its fight against this pernicious
evil. For me, Kenneth Ransom has become the human face of the many thousands
of men and women facing execution in the USA and I mourn his death.”
Kenneth Ransom became the 32nd prisoner to be executed in Texas this year
bringing the total number of executions in the USA in 1997 to 61; 419 prisoners
have been executed in the USA since 1977.
Thank you to all those who sent appeals on behalf of Kenneth Ransom. Letters
regretting the execution may be sent to the authorities indicated in the original