And Justice For All

A man named Joseph Garcia is slated to die in Texas tomorrow.

Garcia is the last surviving member of a group known as the Texas 7. They escaped from prison in December 2000 and robbed a store. A police officer was killed during the robbery. When the men were recaptured, they were tried for murder.

Joseph Garcia, however, did not commit murder under any usual definition of murder. The police office was shot outside the store by another escapee while Garcia remained inside. It is only because of an unusual and controversial Texas law that he was tried for murder rather than a lesser crime: under the Texas “Law of Parties,” a person deemed an accomplice liable in addition to the party who actually committed the murder.

Garcia’s trial was marred by oversights and irregularities, and the judge who presided over his case has been credibly accused of racial bias. Barring intervention by the governor of Texas, Joseph Garcia will die tomorrow for a murder he did not commit.

A more complete version of Joseph Garcia’s story is available from Sister Helen Prejean via the link below. Let’s pray for justice to be done, for the souls of Joseph Garcia and the murdered police officer Aubrey Hawkins, for consolation for their families, and for a speedy end to the death penalty.

—Prison cell block image via Wikimedia Commons