Wednesday, 13 August 2008

The letter from Ramsey Clark to Governor Perry

NEW YORK, N.Y. 10011

212-979-1583 FAX

August 12, 2008

The Honorable Rick Perry
Governor, State of Texas
State Capitol, Room 2S.I
Austin, Texas 78701

Ms. Rissie Owens, Chair
Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles
8610 Shoal Creek Boulevard
Austin, Texas 78757

Re: Jeffrey Wood, TDJC No. 999256

Dear Governor Perry and Chair Owens,

Jeffrey Wood is scheduled to be executed on August 21, 2008. I write you to request the
commutation of Mr. Woods sentence from death to a period of imprisonment for the number of years
you find the facts of the case warrant.
As the records before you show, Daniel Reneau was executed on June 13, 2002 as the
person who committed the murder of Kris Keiran. He was alone with the victim in the store when he
fired the fatal shot.
There are three major reasons why the death penalty imposed on Mr. Wood is improper on
the facts of this case.
1. Mr. Wood was not present in the store in which the victim was murdered at the time of
the murder. He had no reason to believe Mr. Reneau intended to murder Mr. Keiran because he
understood the original plan to fake a robbery of the store with the participation of its manager had
been abandoned the day before. Mr. Wood believed Mr. Reneau was not armed when he entered the
store and that he had no intention of committing any crime.
2. Mr. Wood has suffered from severe mental, emotional and learning disabilities all his life
either caused by or resulting from beatings by his parents from earliest childhood, or both. He was
initially found not fit to stand trial and hospitalized. The jury never heard testimony concerning his
mental condition, because during the penalty phase of this trial, after the Court refused to let him
represent himself, he ordered his lawyers not to call any witnesses who would have testified about
his mental handicap and severe beatings as a child.

3. Mr. Wood, over 30 at the time of his trial, had no previous criminal record.
I am an 80 year old third generation Texan on my mothers side, second generation Texan on
my fathers side, whose children are multi generation Texans on both their mothers and fathers side
with relatives still resident in Dallas, Corpus Christi, Beaumont and Houston. I have opposed the
death penalty in all cases since before I entered the University of Texas. I was licensed to practice
law in Texas in 1951. Though I left Texas in 1961 to join the Kennedy Administration, I retain a
deep concern for the quality of justice in Texas and its reputation in the nation.
Texas should act now to restrict its death penalty to the individual who personally commits
the act of killing. I represented Carlos Santana in his last appeals before his execution on April 23,
1993. Carlos, a citizen of the Dominican Republic, was one of the seven persons executed in Texas
since 1976 under a charge of felony murder, or law of parties. He left a young widow and two
orphaned children. Carlos raised his head from the gurney moments before his death to face his
audience and said “Violence is not the way, love is the way.” For me, at the time, this confirmed his
profound moral character. His execution was a tragic miscarriage of justice. He killed no one.
The execution of Jeffrey Wood on the facts of his case, mentality impaired, outside,
unarmed, not expecting any crime to be committed, would be the most extreme execution in Texas
of a person who had killed no one, and could not have anticipated that anyone would be killed, of all
the unfortunate executions under legal theories of felony murder, or law of parties.
I urge you to commute this death sentence and limit application of the death sentence to the
actual killer.

Ramsey Clark

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