Conservative Texas Pol Argues Against Execution

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It’s not often that a staunch conservative loses sleep over imposition of the death penalty, but Republican Texas state Rep. Jeff Leach says he is up nights over the impending execution of Jeff Wood, the Texas Tribune reports. The legislator has spent the past week poring over court documents and speaking with the governor’s office and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, hoping to prevent what would be the state’s seventh execution of the year. Wood is set to die Aug. 24.

“I simply do not believe that Mr. Wood is deserving of the death sentence,” Leach said. “I can’t sit quietly by and not say anything.” In 1996, Wood sat in a truck outside a gas station while a friend went inside to steal a safe said to be full from the holiday weekend. When the clerk didn’t comply, the friend shot him dead. The killer was executed, but Wood got his own death sentence under Texas’ felony murder statute, which holds that anyone involved in a crime resulting in death is equally responsible, even if they weren’t directly involved in the actual killing. Leach, who ranks among the most conservative Republicans in the House, favors the death penalty in the most heinous cases, he said. When he came across Wood’s case during his work for the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, he said, it didn’t seem right.


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