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EXTRA 77/94 - USA (Texas): death penalty: Jesse Jacobs

, N° d'index: AMR 51/102/1994

Jesse Jacobs, white, is due to be executed on 4 January 1995. He was convicted of murder in 1987 for the shooting of the estranged wife of his sister's boyfriend. His sister was subsequently tried for the same crime and convicted of involuntary manslaughter. According to Jacobs's attorneys, the state accepted at that trial that it was she who had shot the victim and that Jacobs had not anticipated the shooting. Jacobs was convicted on the basis of a pre-trial confession, which he subsequently recanted. However, the jury accepted the state's version of the confession. AI is concerned by claims that Jesse Jacobs may not be guilty of capital murder.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 51/102/94
Distr: UA/SC
EXTRA 77/94 Death Penalty 16 December 1994
USA (Texas) Jesse JACOBS, white
Jesse Jacobs is due to be executed on 4 January 1995. He was convicted of
murder and sentenced to death in May 1987 for the fatal shooting of Etta Ann
Urdiales, the estranged wife of his sister's boyfriend.
Jesse Jacobs was convicted on the basis of a pre-trial confession to police
in which he stated he had shot and killed the victim. However, Jacobs recanted
this confession at trial and told the court that he had abducted Ms Urdiales
at his sister's request as she wanted a meeting with her, and that his sister
had shot Ms Uriales inside an abandoned house while he was outside; he claimed
he had not known that the victim would be shot, or even that his sister had
a gun. The jury rejected his testimony, and accepted the state's evidence
of Jacobs' confession.
Jacobs' sister, Bobbie Hogan, was subsequently tried for the same crime, and
was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in January 1988. According to
petitions submitted by Jacob's attorneys, the state conceded at Hogan's trial
that it was she who had shot the victim and that Jacobs had not anticipated
the killing.
Appeals were subsequently submitted in Jacob's case, based on the evidence
which the state had accepted in Hogan's trial, and which cast serious doubt
on the validity of Jacobs' conviction for capital murder. Under Texas and
US law, an accomplice to a felony which results in someone's death cannot be
sentenced to death for murder if it is established that they had not intended
or anticipated that the killing would take place. However, appeals on this
issue to date have been denied, most recently by the Fifth Circuit Court of
Appeals on 1 September 1994. The courts have held that the issues raised are
not a matter for state or federal habeas corpus relief, but should properly
be addressed by the Governor's powers of pardon or commutation. A petition
for review of Jacobs' case is currently pending before the United States Supreme
Court, arguing that Jacobs deserves a new trial because his conviction and
sentence of death are unreliable in light of the evidence produced and the
admissions made by the state at Hogan's trial.
Amnesty International is currently seeking more information from the record
of this case about the very disturbing claim that Jacobs may not be guilty
of capital murder.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Amnesty International is deeply concerned at the number of executions being
carried out in the USA in general, and in Texas in particular. Of the 257
executions carried out in the USA since the death penalty was resumed in the
mid 1970s, 85 have been carried out in Texas.
In Texas, the governor may commute a sentence of death only if she receives
a favourable recommendation from the Board of Pardons and Paroles. The Board
consistently refuses to hold full clemency hearings in death penalty cases,
and apart from a number of commutations granted in the 1980s as the result
of two key court rulings, the Board has never recommended clemency in any death
penalty case in recent years.
2
As of 20 July 1994, there were 385 prisoners under sentence of death in Texas.
The most recent person to be executed in Texas was Raymond Kinnamon, on 11
December 1994. The method of execution is lethal injection.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express and airmail
letters either in English if possible:
- urging the Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend that Governor Richards
grant clemency to Jesse Jacobs;
- urging the Board of Pardons and Paroles to convene and hold a full investigation
into the facts of the case; refer to the court's findings that this was a matter
which should be addressed by them;
- citing reports of the admissions made by the state in the trial of Jacobs'
sister - that it was she who had shot the victim and that Jacobs had not
anticipated the killing; refer also to reports of the state's admission that
it had serious doubts as to whether or not Jacobs was guilty of capital murder.
APPEALS TO:
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
Executive Clemency Unit
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Pardons and Paroles Division
PO Box 13401
Austin, TX 78711
USA
Telephone: +1 512 406 5852
Faxes: + 1 512 467 0945
Salutation: Dear Board Members
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
The Honorable Ann Richards
Governor of Texas
Office of the Governor
PO Box 12428, Capitol Station
Austin, TX 78711
USA
Telephone: +1 (512) 463 2000
Faxes: +1 512 463 1849
Telegrams: Governor Richards, Austin, Texas 78711, USA
Salutation: Dear Governor
The Letters Editor
Austin-American Statesman
Box 670
Austin, TX 78767
USA
Faxes: +1 512 445 3679
and to diplomatic representatives of the USA accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY.

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