A Texas anti-death penalty activist has filed documents in Walker County, Texas accusing now-President George W. Bush of "murder, manslaughter or criminally negligent homicide" for the May 1999 execution of Jose Elijio De La Cruz. According to the suit, the execution was unlawful and Bush is culpable.
Ward Larkin of Houston filed the papers in December. Larkin is an occasional contributor to The Zephyr and a Knox College graduate. The charges are based in part on a 2000 ruling by Texas Fifth Circuit Judge Emilio M. Garza: "what separates the executioner from the murderer is the legal process by which the state ascertains and condemns those guilty of heinous crimes."
The charges against Bush continue: "If the proper legal process is not followed, then the executioner is not separated from the murderer. The executioner is a murderer, and thats exactly what happened when Jose Elijio De La Cruz was executed on May 4, 1999."
The suit claims that the Warrant of Execution for De La Cruz was flawed because it did not properly set the time or authorize the correct executioner. "The Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Institutional Division did not have lawful authority to execute Jose Elijio De La Cruz."
"Governor Bush was criminally responsible for the unlawful execution of Jose Elijio De La Cruz. Governor Bush had the legal duty to prevent the unlawful execution of Jose Elijio De La Cruz, but instead promoted or assisted in carrying out that execution, making no reasonable effort to prevent it."
"Governor Bush also issued many official gubernatorial statements clarifying how he personally saw his official duty regarding the application of the death penalty. Specifically, Governor Bush wrote 'I take every death penalty case seriously and review each case carefully.'"
"As Governor, George W. Bush was an actual and integral party to the supervision and direction of Texas executions. Governor Bush (or his official designate) gave final word via telephone as to whether or not the Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Institutional Division may proceed with an execution. As Governor, George W. Bush officially acted with intent to promote or assist with the commission of all Texas executions. The Director of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice-Institutional Division did not proceed with any execution until given consent to proceed by the Texas Governor, or the Governors acting designate."
Whether this case will lead to proceedings against the President or a review of Texas' death penalty statutes is yet to be seen.
Download a Microsoft Word version of the criminal charges.