Friday, September 20, 2013

Robert Garza and the Texas Death Row

Tonight was one of those nights in Huntsville where I wished the whole town would disappear off the face of the earth . Robert Garza was scheduled for execution. He was convicted under the Law of Parties, but as he said, "Where is the party?" No one else was ever sentenced in this case. Robert did not shoot the victims. Yet he spent 11 years on death row and was murdered by the State of Texas.

Robert was to have been executed at 6:00 so people stated gathering before 5:00 to stand vigil and protest this execution. 

As 6:00 came, there was no sign that the execution was happening. The Supreme Court was going over appeals until 8:00. So for 3 hours or so,  around 30 people gathered outside of the death house, the Walls Unit in downtown Huntsville, to stand with the Garza family and protest this damned system of capital punishment that is so broken, so irreparable, that it should be shut down immediately.
Delia Perez-Meyer is with Kory and Eric Garza outside of the Walls Unit as over 30 people waited there in Huntsville for the US Supreme Court to rule on Robert Garza's appeals. Delia's brother Louis is on death row for a crime he did not commit and she drove from Austin to be with the Garza family and friends even though she had to make the 3-hour trip back tonight so she could teach her students at 7:30 in the morning.

Karl Rodenberg from Germany is here for three weeks to visit all his friends on the row.
two of whom he affectionately calls his grandsons--the two Pablo's.

Folks came from Houston, Willis, Huntsville--both students and professors, Lufkin, Austin and Germany. 

When 6:00 came and went, we found out the high court was deliberating. Then 7:00 came and went and we were starting to get optimistic they would make a favorable ruling. We heard that Ruth Gader Ginsberg was asking questions. But at 8:00 we started hearing Robert's appeals were denied. 

The pain on Kory Garza's face tells the story of how the families of those being executed suffer the same excruciating pain as do the families of crime victims. Kory and her little brother Eric, who has a look like a deer caught in headlights, have stood with their mother Sylvia in defending Bobby for years and years. If only ALL those on death row had family support like this.
Kory was six years old when Bobby was sent to death row. She is now a junior in high school. Eric is ten years old and in 5th grade. He was a baby when Bobby was arrested. He has grown up knowing his brother only threw a glass partition and speaking to him threw a phone.

At 8:10 we saw Jennifer, Robert's wife, and his friend Yadira, Sylvia and Jaime, her husband, crossing the street. It was dark by now so it was hard to make them out. But Kory recognized her mother and began crying. Then Eric started crying and so many of us tried to comfort and support them. 

It was so awful knowing that Sylvia, the strong mother and woman, had spent so many years working to end the Law of Parties, working to educate people in the Valley about capital punishment, lobbying with all of us and our organizations that work together and meet at the capitol every legislative session to try to persuade legislators that the Law of Parties is so unfair, so wrong, so not in the interest of justice. I was in a lobby group with Sylvia this past spring and she had legislators or their aides spell bound as she spoke about her son. 

Sylvia always visited Bobby, always fought for him, and now Texas was slapping her in the face. Telling her that even though Bobby did not murder any of the four victims in this case, he deserved to be killed.

As darkness came, a few people had to leave but most stayed until the bitter end, like our friend from Germany, Karl Rodenberg. 
Karl visits several men on the row and will be here for three weeks. This trip he brought his sign from the German Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. He left it with Dennis to let others visiting from Germany hold when they are here. Standing with Karl is Sam Houston Prof. Dennis Longmire who is present at every execution.

This evening ended with us exchanging tears and hugs with Sylvia and Jennifer after the execution.  

I drove Yadira back to Houston as she was too distraught to function after witnessing her friend's execution. 

This was a horrible night that none of us wanted to happen. But it did. I hold the governor, the legislature, the Board of Pardons, and the Supreme Court guilty of murder. They are killers. They have allowed the injsutice of the death poenalty to continue and to murder Bobby Garza. The Garza family is now a crime victim's family.

Robert Garza, Presente!

Gloria Rubac   (cell) 713-503-2633   (home) 713-225-0211

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