Governor Perry Invited to Witness Execution of Gary Etheridge, Aug 20th
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Livingston, TX -
"...if you allow Texas to carry out the execution I will invite you to attend his execution together with me because in this case I need your support and guidance. I need a shoulder to lean on and someone who explain to me that it was the right thing to kill my husband. " - Gary's wife Claudia, in a letter to Governor Rick Perry - May 17, 2002.
Governor Rick Perry has been formally invited to attend the August 20th execution of Gary Etheridge as a witness, in the event he fails to intervene to stop the execution pending further investigation. The invitation was extended by Gary's wife Claudia, along with The Canadian Coalition Against The Death Penalty, on behalf of Gary Etheridge.
The Governor was originally invited to the execution in May, when Gary faced another execution date that was stayed. Perry at that time did not respond to Mrs. Etheridge's letter and invitation. On August 17, a registered letter was sent to the office of the Governer again extending the invitation. "...It's now time for you to have the courage of your convictions and stand up to your own words. I think it would be important to you to finally witness an execution since you already signed so many death warrants," the letter reads.
The involvement of the Canadian group is "indicative of the level of concern now rising in the international community over the continued enthusiasm for 'Texecutions,' " Coalition Director Dave Parkinson, in Toronto, says.
The Canadian group is also encouraging its supporters both in Texas and around the world to join Texas activists recent call for an all out boycott of the Lone Star State for its continued application of the death penalty.
"The Governor has to answer not only to his own constituents in Texas, but to political and economic allies internationally," Parkinson says, " Perry's response to the invitation to attend the execution will indicate whether he takes his responsibility on this matter seriously, or if a death warrant is just another piece of paper to be signed from a stack on his desk without any concern for the implications of what his endorsement means."
CCADP's Tracy Lamourie adds, "Etheridge's invitation extends to the governor a unique opportunity to make a public stand, to either have the courage to stand up for his ideals which apparantly involve the taking of life; or to show the international community how little concern he has for the gravity of this issue by ignoring the invitation."
Governor has been asked to recuse himself for the reason of prior
involvement with the case. If Governor Perry recuses himself,
this invitation still stands as he is the signatory not only to
Garys warrant on several occasions, but to the warrants of dozens
of prisoners on a regular basis since he replaced Governor Bush.
The invitation to the Governor ended with the words : "With
this letter I respectfully invite you in the name of Mr. Gary
Etheridge, in the name of the Canadian Coalition Against The Death
Penalty and in my name, to witness the murder of Mr. Etheridge
on August 20, 2002 after 6:00 PM. Sincerely yours, -Claudia Etheridge."
We await a response from the Governor as to whether he will have the courage of his convictions and attend.
Livingston, August 16th, 2002
Dear Governor Perry,
as you know, is Texas going to kill my husband, Mr. Gary Wayne Etheridge, # 000986, on August 20th, 2002, for a murder he did not commit.
You know all the facts about his case and that a DNA testing could clear Gary. You know that there are still so many unanswered questions in his case, but just in case justice will not be served next Tuesday and you sign the papers that will allow Texas to kill Mr. Etheridge I again like to invite you to witness his execution together with me.
Since you used Mr. Etheridge's case as a stepping stone to further your own political career in 1998 it's now time for you to have the courage of your convictions and stand up to your own words. I think it would be important to you to finally witness an execution since you already signed so many death warrants. It should be part of the job of all the people who help killing a convicted man. It should be the duty of a jury, prosecution, defense lawyers, judges as well as the Parole Board Members and you, the Governor of Texas, to witness an execution, to fully understand what you are doing in sentencing a human being to die.
It's easy to have an opinion and to stand to this opinion, but not get involved with the man who's going to die, to not talk to him, to not look behind and question if he got a fair trial, to not take the time to see both sides of the story, is pretty sad and unjust. How could a trial be fair when the jury did not hear any mitigating circumstances ? How could a trial be fair when the defense lawyers only years after the trial sign a written statement that says that they believed from day one that Mr. Etheridge was not alone at the crimce scene, because there was evidence at the scene that he was not alone.
What a pity that the jury never heard this statement, never heard that there was proof that Mr. Etheridge was not alone at the scene. What a shame that the State of Texas rather convict an innocent man only because back in 1990 he did not confess that his little brother Michael was with him at the crime scene and that his brother Mike is the killer. It's a shame that they sentenced Mr. Etheridge to die only because he protected his little brother 12 years ago.
With this letter I respectfully invite you in the name of Mr. Gary Etheridge, in the name of the Canadian Coalition To Abolish The Death Penalty and in my name, to witness the murder of Mr. Etheridge on August 20, 2002 after 6:00 PM.