URGENT ACTION APPEAL
Missourians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty
Execution Alert: Roderick Nunley Faces Lethal Injection
Execution Date: September 1, 2015
Missouri plans to execute Roderick Nunley on September 1 at 6 p.m. The state charged Nunley with first-degree murder for the abduction and death of a young woman, Ann Harrison, who was waiting for a school bus in Kansas City, Missouri. Expressing genuine remorse, Roderick immediately took responsibility for his crime following his arrest. He gave the police a detailed statement, told his attorney he was guilty and accepted that he deserved punishment. He was ready to accept life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Despite repeated judicial directives, a jury never heard Roderick's social history or received mitigation evidence to evaluate the sentence appropriate to his case. A judge alone made the capital sentencing decision. Medical examiners testified that Roderick suffers from "severe personality disorder," stemming, in part, from a "seizure disorder from numerous [childhood] head injuries." Finally, they also indicated cocaine use rendered Roderick "acutely intoxicated" during the time in question.
While the rest of the nation is moving away from the death penalty because of concerns about systemic geographic and racial arbitrariness, cost, and the impact on those with serious mental health problems and intellectual disabilities, Missouri is continuing on pace for a record number of executions this year. MADP extends its condolences to the Harrison family and all families that have lost loved ones to violence, but we firmly believe that the death penalty only continues the cycle of violence and fails to make our society safer.
Actions Needed Immediately
* Contact Governor Nixon to urge that he stay Mr. Nunleys execution. Call 573-751-3222.
* Contact Attorney General Chris Koster to urge that he ensure justice by facilitating the stay. Call 573-751-3321.
Please join us as we gather around the state to remember victims of violence and urge the state to not commit another act of violence in their names. Missouri is planning vigils in cities across the state to raise awareness and call attention to the case of Roderick Nunley, who faces execution on Tuesday, September 1 at 6 p.m. The vigils will take place on September 1, unless otherwise noted.
6320 Brookside Plaza, Suite 185
Kansas City, MO 64113
NICARAGUAN NATIONAL FACING EXECUTION IN TEXAS
Bernardo Aban Tercero, a Nicaraguan national, is scheduled to be executed in Texas on 26 August for a murder committed in 1997. The poor quality of the legal representation he received at trial and during state-level appeals is at the center of his clemency bid.
Click here to view the full Urgent Action in Word or PDF format, including case information, addresses and sample messages.
Robert Berger was shot dead on 31 March 1997 during a robbery of a dry cleaners in which he was waiting with his five-year-old daughter, in Houston, Texas. Bernardo Aban Tercero was arrested in 1999 when re-entering the USA having returned to Nicaragua after the crime. In 2000, he was convicted of capital murder. At the sentencing, the prosecution argued that this crime and his alleged involvement in crimes in Nicaragua after he left Texas showed that he would be a future danger - a prerequisite for a death sentence in Texas. Among other things, the prosecutor described the defendant as a "beast" and a "demon". The defense lawyers did not object to these inflammatory comments meaning that this issue was forfeited on appeal. In a bare mitigation case, the defense presented members of the defendant's family as character witnesses and to argue that he was capable of rehabilitation. A jail chaplain testified that he had shown remorse. The jury voted for the death penalty.
The defendant's inexperienced lawyers had done little investigation into possible mitigation and presented no expert testimony to the jury - such as from a mental health expert - or from anyone else who could describe how the defendant's childhood in Nicaragua - marked by abject poverty, war and exposure to toxic pesticides as a child laborer - might have impacted his life and conduct. Following the trial, the lawyer appointed for state habeas corpus appeals failed to raise a single claim outside of the trial record (the purpose of such appeals), and did not conduct his own investigation of the case or of the mitigation failure by the trial lawyers. In 2006 a leading Texas newspaper published an investigation into the poor quality of capital defense representation in the state. The two lawyers appointed to represent Bernardo Aban Tercero for state level appeals featured prominently in this review.
Bernardo Aban Tercero grew up in extreme poverty in Nicaragua. He was raised by his elderly grandmother after he was abandoned by his mother as a baby and his father refused to have anything to do with him. The family had no electricity or running water, and no access to health care. They lived in an area greatly affected by the civil war in the 1970s and 80s. Poverty meant that even the children worked. According to his clemency petition, which provides the executive authorities with mitigating evidence not presented to the jury, Bernardo Aban Tercero worked in the fields for years from the age of 10. Planes would spray toxic pesticides every two days, with the workers below not provided protective gloves or masks. Bernardo Aban Tercero was among those who became sick and vomited after such sprayings, and suffered severe headaches. Relatives have said that he was one of the worst affected. A neuropsychological assessment is currently being produced for the clemency effort.
An employee of the dry cleaning business where the murder occurred said that she had helped to orchestrate the robbery with Bernardo Aban Tercero, who lived with her sister and needed money. According to the record, there was a co-defendant who fled to Mexico and was never tried. At his trial in 2000, the defense argued that Bernardo Aban Tercero had lacked the intent necessary for capital murder. The only witness called by the defense, to counter the 17 witnesses presented by the prosecution, was the defendant himself. He testified that the victim Robert Berger had tried to grab his gun and it had gone off during the ensuing struggle. He also alleged that the employee had been a willing participant in the plan. The prosecution maintained that specific intent could be inferred from evidence that he had used threats to coerce the employee into her participation, that he had taken a loaded gun with him into the dry cleaners, and that he had shot the victim because he could identify him. The jury convicted him ofor capital murder and, after voting yes to the "future dangerousness" question and finding no mitigation to warrant a life sentence, sentenced him to death.
Click here to view the full Urgent Action in Word or PDF format.
Name: Bernardo Aban Tercero (m)
Issues: Death penalty, Unfair trial, Legal concern
Issue Date: 6 August 2015
Please let us know if you took action so that we can track our impact!
EITHER send a short email to firstname.lastname@example.org with "UA 176/15" in the subject line, and include in the body of the email the number of letters and/or emails you sent,
OR fill out this short online form to let us know how you took action.
Thank you for taking action! Please check with the AIUSA Urgent Action Office if taking action after the appeals date. If you receive a response from a government official, please forward it to us at email@example.com or to the Urgent Action Office address below.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
Please write immediately in English or your own language:
* Call for this execution to be stopped and for Bernardo Aban Tercero's death sentence to be commuted;
* Express concern at the inadequacy of his appointed counsel's representation at trial and on appeal, and calling on the clemency authorities to seriously consider the mitigating evidence which the jury did not hear;
* Explain that you are not seeking to excuse the crime or minimize its very serious consequences.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 26 AUGUST 2015 TO:
Clemency Section, Board of Pardons and Paroles
8610 Shoal Creek Blvd.,
Fax: 011 1 512 467 0945
Salutation: Dear Board members
Governor Greg AbbottM
Office of the Governor,
P.O. Box 12428
Austin, Texas 78711-2428, USA
Fax: 011 1 512 463 1849
Salutation: Dear Governor
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