Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Wood seeks reprieve

Wood seeks reprieve

Published August 9, 2008

Jeffery Lee Wood does not deserve to die.

That’s the plea made in an application to the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole seeking clemency for the man sentenced to death for the 1996 murder of a Kerrville convenience store clerk, Kriss Keeran.

“I think he is the ideal candidate for clemency,” said San Antonio Attorney Scott Sullivan, who has represented Wood since 1999. “We are asking for a sentence less than death.”

Wood is scheduled to die by lethal injection Aug. 21.

Wood’s roommate, Daniel Reneau, also was convicted of Keeran’s death. Reneau was executed in 2002.

Evidence showed that Reneau entered the store at Texas 16 and Interstate 10 just before dawn on Jan. 2, 1996 and shot Keeran.

Records show Wood was waiting outside the store and came in after Keeran was shot.

Wood and Reneau then robbed the store of a video recorder with a tape showing the incident, a safe and more than $11,000 in cash and checks, according to reports.

The appeal to the state board points out that Keeran and William “Bill” Bunker, the assistant manager of the convenience store, were involved in discussions with Wood and Reneau prior to the robbery. Apparently on the day of the incident, Keeran changed his mind and did not cooperate.

“Reneau — the only person inside the store and who carried a weapon — alone made the decision to take Keeran’s life,” the application stated. “Mr. Wood’s culpability for Kriss Keeran’s death lies somewhere between Daniel Reneau’s and Bill Bunker’s.”

Sullivan claims that because Wood did not pull the trigger, he is as liable of the murder as Bunker, who was never charged in the case. He said the prosecution wrongly accused Wood of being the mastermind behind the robbery-turned-murder.

“He is a party (to the murder) in every sense of the word,” Sullivan said. “We take issue with the prosecution calling him a mastermind. I don’t think he is capable of being a mastermind.”

Sullivan said Wood’s unstable mental state most likely had a lot to do with his death sentence. Wood refused to defend himself during his trial.

“Having worked with him the last nine years, I know he can’t put things together. He is not capable of that,” Sullivan said. “His emotional history and mental history are real poor.”

Lucy Wilke, assistant district attorney for the 216th Judicial District, said the verdict and sentence should stand.

“I think it is important that we honor the verdict of the jury who heard all of the evidence — under oath. They were a very conscientious jury,” Wilke said. “What the Parole Board has before it on a petition is not under oath.”

Sullivan said he holds out hope the board will grant clemency because of the low number of people who have been executed who were “just parties to a murder.”

“When it comes to the governor, the only thing I can do is hope and pray for the best,” Sullivan said. “I am very hopeful.”

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