the courage and seriousness of this man this brother is typical of
Texas eye have come to learn much respect
rest in hotep
Texas executes inmate after Perry refuses reprieve
11/19/2009 7:38 PM
By: Associated Press
HUNTSVILLE, Texas — Texas inmate Robert Lee Thompson has been executed for his part in a fatal Houston store holdup after Gov. Rick Perry rejected a parole board's recommendation to spare Thompson because he wasn't the gunman.
The 34-year-old Thompson was an accomplice to triggerman Sammy Butler when 29-year-old store clerk Mansoor Bhai Rahim Mohammed was gunned down 13 years ago.
Butler received life in prison. A jury gave Thompson death.
Thompson's lawyer told the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles Thompson's punishment under the Texas law of parties wasn't fair and the panel voted 5-2 Wednesday to recommend his sentence be commuted to life.
Perry didn't have to follow their recommendation.
The execution was carried out Thursday evening less than an hour after Perry refused to go along with the panel's endorsement.
Texas Board Recommends Clemency for Man Set to Die
Updated: Wednesday, 18 Nov 2009, 6:09 PM CST
Published : Wednesday, 18 Nov 2009, 6:09 PM CST
MICHAEL GRACZYK, Associated Press Writer
HUNTSVILLE, Texas - The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, in a highly
unusual vote, recommended a convicted murderer set to die Thursday for
his part in the fatal shooting of Houston convenience store clerk have
his sentence commuted to life in prison.
The board's action Wednesday, on a 5-2 vote, leaves the decision on
whether Robert Lee Thompson lives or dies with Gov. Rick Perry.
Thompson, 34, was condemned under the Texas law of parties for being an
accomplice when Mansoor Bhai Rahim Mohammed, 29, was gunned down 13
Thompson's partner, Sammy Butler, received a life prison term. Thompson
"This is hugely significant," Patrick McCann, Thompson's lawyer, said.
"I'm thrilled... Whatever gets my guy to a life sentence I'm thrilled with."
Perry is not required to follow the recommendation of the board, whose
members he appoints.
"The governor has received the board's recommendation but has not made a
decision," Perry spokeswoman Allison Castle said.
Thompson was set to die after 6 p.m. Thursday.
"I spoke with his office of general counsel and his representative
there, and they couldn't tell me when he would make his decision,"
In his clemency request, McCann compared Thompson's case to that of
Kenneth Foster, another inmate condemned under the law of parties.
Two years ago, Foster won a commutation recommendation from the parole
board. Perry agreed and Foster now is serving a life sentence. Prison
officials said it's the last time a Texas governor commuted a death row
inmate's sentence to life in prison.
Perry's explanation for commuting Foster was that Foster and his
co-defendant were tried together on capital murder charges for a slaying
in San Antonio. In Thompson's case, he and Butler were tried separately
At least a half dozen other Texas inmates have been executed under the
law of parties.
Under the law, offenders conspiring to commit one felony like robbery
can all be held responsible for another ensuing crime, like murder.
The U.S. Supreme Court since 1982 has barred the death penalty for
co-conspirators who don't themselves kill. The justices, however, in
1987 made an exception, ruling the Eighth Amendment didn't prohibit
execution of someone who plays a major role in a felony that results in
murder and whose mental state is one of reckless indifference.
McCann also has an appeal before the Supreme Court raising questions
about the competence of Thompson's trial lawyers, arguing jurors who
decided Thompson should be executed never learned of his abusive
childhood, an upbringing by a mentally ill and drug- and
alcohol-addicted mother and a household where he was "raised in and
Thompson believed he was doing a public service by robbing and shooting
Asian and Middle Eastern grocery store clerks in Houston. The 10th-grade
dropout was 21 at the time of Mohammed's shooting. Another clerk at the
same store was shot four times by Thompson but survived.
"I feel remorse now that I've grown and understand certain things now,"
Thompson told The Associated Press recently from a visiting cage outside
death row. "But as far as my motives, I'm not going to feel guilty about
standing behind my community.
"I wasn't thinking of this being wrong. It was more: You're not doing us
right," he said of the store clerks. "They rob us. They watch us like
crazy. We're all victims."
Evidence at his trial showed Thompson, who is black, told detectives he
went on a two-month crime spree in 1996 because God told him to do
something about store clerks who discriminated against blacks.
The killing was one of three he acknowledged to authorities. In two of
the slayings, Thompson told detectives he was the gunman.
Asked in prison if he'd ever killed someone, he replied: "No one died in
front of me. I've shot at people. Different things happen."
According to testimony at his trial, Thompson and Butler walked into the
southwest Houston convenience store and Thompson demanded money from
32-year-old clerk Mubarakali Meredia. Even though Meredia complied, he
was shot. Thompson went around the store counter and shot him three more
times, then placed his .25-caliber pistol at Meredia's head and fired
again but the gun was out of ammunition. Instead, court documents show
he used a cash register drawer to bash Meredia in the head.
Butler opened fire at Mohammed, hitting him once, then fired again
through the passenger side window of their car as he and Thompson were
fleeing. Mohammed was killed with the second shot. Jurors decided Butler
didn't intend to kill Mohammed and gave him life in prison rather than
Meredia survived his wounds and testified against Thompson.