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2000-11-09

Texas to Execute Mexican Prisoner Miguel Flores

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Tonight, just two hours after Florida election officials are due to announce the results of a vote recount and declare the winner in the presidential elections, Texas is set to execute 31 year-old Miguel Flores, a Mexican citizen. [includes rush transcript]

Only the Supreme Court and Texas Governor George W. Bush now have the power to decide whether to spare his life. If Bush is declared the winner tonight in the elections, one of his first decisions as president-elect will be to execute yet another person in the state of Texas.

Flores was convicted of murdering 20 year-old Angela Tyson in the small Texas panhandle town of Borger, and he has been on death row for 11 years. The case has become a sticking point between Mexican and U.S. authorities because Flores was not notified of his consular rights when he was arrested, as required by the Vienna Convention, which the US has signed and ratified. The State Department yesterday sent a letter to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles urging its members to consider granting clemency to Flores because of this violation. The board denied, 18 to 0.

Mexican authorities, Flores’ lawyers and his family say that had he been told of his rights to contact the consulate, he would have received help in finding a competent defense attorney. They say that Flores’ court-appointed attorney did not contest the testimony of Dr. Clay Griffith, a psychiatrist known as "Dr. Death" who frequently testifies against defendants in death penalty trials.

Although Griffith had never met or examined Flores, he predicted that he would commit violent acts in the future, a factor that allows juries to vote for death. And his family is particularly upset that they were never called to testify at the trial by the defense attorney, who presented no mitigating evidence in the sentencing phase. Had they been allowed to talk to the jury about their son, who had no prior criminal record, they believe that they would have convinced its members to vote for life in prison, instead of death.

In a recent film called "The Back of the World," Tomas Rangel, grandfather of Miguel Flores, said that he hoped to be dead before his grandson was executed, because he could not bear the thought of having to go through so much suffering. He joins us today from Livingston, Texas, where he has just said goodbye to his grandson.

Guests:

  • Tomas Rangel, maternal grandfather of Miguel Flores. Speaking from Livingston, Texas.

Contact: Gov. George W. Bush. Phone 512-463 2000, Fax 512-463 1849.

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Tonight, just two hours after Florida election officials are due to announce the results of the vote recount and declare the winner in the presidential elections, Texas is set to execute 31-year-old Miguel Flores, a Mexican citizen. Only the Supreme Court and Texas Governor George W. Bush now have the power to decide whether to spare his life. If Bush is declared the winner in the elections today, one of his first decisions as president-elect will be to execute yet another person in the state of Texas.

Flores was convicted of murdering 20-year-old Angela Tyson in the small Texas panhandle town of Borger and has been on death row for eleven years. The case has become a sticking point between Mexican and US authorities, because Flores was not notified of his consular rights when he was arrested, as required by the Vienna Convention, which the US has signed and ratified. The State Department yesterday sent a letter to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles urging its members to consider granting clemency to Flores because of this violation. The board denied eighteen-to-zero.

Mexican authorities, Flores’s lawyers and his family say that had he been allowed to contact the consulate, he would have received help in finding a competent defense attorney. They say that Flores’s court-appointed attorney did not contest the testimony of Dr. Clay Griffith, a psychiatrist who frequently testifies against defendants in death penalty trials. Although Griffith had never met or examined Flores, he predicted he would commit violent acts in the future, a factor that allows juries to vote for death. And his family is particularly upset that they were never called to testify at the trial by the defense attorney, who presented no mitigating evidence in the sentencing phase. Had they been allowed to talk to the jury about their son, who had no prior criminal record, they believe that they would have convinced its members to vote for life in prison instead of death.

In a recent film called The Back of the World, Tomas Rangel, grandfather of Miguel Flores, said that he hoped to be dead before his grandson was executed, because he could not bear the thought of having to go through so much suffering. Well, he joins us today from Livingston, Texas. Tomas Rangel, welcome to Democracy Now! Tomas Rangel, welcome. Well, we will go to him in just a minute.

[…]

We now go back down to Livingston, Texas where Tomas Rangel is standing by as he awaits the execution of his grandson Miguel Flores. Welcome to Democracy Now!

TOMAS RANGEL: Good morning. This is my name, Tomas Rangel, and I wanted to talk [inaudible] people who can listen to me. I have a son, my grandson, he going to be executed in Texas today. And my daughter, his mother, and me, we are asking for everybody to do something for us, because we are really with hard pain for — because we can not support this thing now. My wife is a little sick and my daughter is in bed right now. And I feel alone.

And I — please, I ask everybody, call to Mr. Bush, the Texas governor and the next president of the US, the United States maybe today, and I want to — everybody that can listen to me this morning, understand me and my family. There’s something real terrible, been waiting for long, long time, eleven years for exactly. And today is the day that my son going to be executed. And I can’t explain how the whole family feels, because I don’t think nobody can explain that. Only the person that be in the same place we are, because when the mother’s expecting something like that happen with your son, he died three or four times first. I’m sorry that I cannot talk too very clear what I want to say. I don’t have words to explain how my family feel. But if you can do something for us, not only for my son, but for every people that have to —- son, brother, father or friends in jail waiting for -—

AMY GOODMAN: Tomas —

TOMAS RANGEL: Yes?

AMY GOODMAN: — Rangel, I understand the Swedish ambassador to the United States, the French ambassador, the Polish ambassador, the US State Department has also weighed in, the arguments in the last hours being — the Mexican government, of course, as well — that your grandson, Miguel Flores, was not notified of his consular rights as required by the Vienna Convention that the US has signed and ratified. Is there a chance that George W. Bush could weigh in today, even after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, as usual, has ruled against your grandson in these last hours?

TOMAS RANGEL: Well, Board of Parole, they denied yesterday and, I understand, the Supreme Court also. The only hope is Mr. Bush. Then because I want to give us him phone number, if somebody want to call him and ask him for help to us, to the family. I really don’t want to nobody feel this pain like my whole family feel. We are a big, big family. But I ask for everybody to do something better to help us. We got friends around Texas state and the other parts to the US. And they are help protest, and they want to stop the death penalty in Texas and not only for Miguel Flores, but if my son die to day, I ask in the same way, in the same [inaudible] to all people, to try and help us. And going to be no more executions.

AMY GOODMAN: Tomas Rangel, your family was not allowed to testify in the trial. What would you have told the jury if you had a chance to address them?

TOMAS RANGEL: Well, I already comment with close friends of the family, if they give another trial, if his trial going to be 50/50 — I mean, with a good chance of my son being defended with a good lawyer — if the grand jury find my son guilt again and they want execution, I think there’s going to be more understandable, because right now, the only I can say in my son’s favor is they ignored us, my whole family and they friends. And I don’t think so this is good justice in there, because we are not happy about this justice, because we needed for everybody, for every man that who are right now in similar court or anywhere else, maybe in the whole world, I just want to do a fair defense, because this is the country where I live, where I have my family and where I going to die. And I want to see for one time the people with their trust again the US government, the Supreme Court just and the state court just, because we need to feel strong, even in the death, because we know the law was law. And I don’t think so. And nothing’s wrong with the US law. It’s perfectly clear. It’s pretty strong. And we need to have representative — I mean, the lawyers.

AMY GOODMAN: Thomas Rangel, you have the phone number of Governor George W. Bush?

TOMAS RANGEL: Yes, I have. And I’m going to give it to you. And it’s (512) 463-2000. And the fax is also (512) 463-1849. And I give you a thank you for let me this moment to talk to the people. And I know that I’m going to feel better. I’m going to feel a little more strong, because really, right now, I will need on my own power. And thank you, everybody.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, I want to thank you very much for being with us, Tomas Rangel. Again, Mr. Rangel’s grandson, Miguel Flores, is scheduled to die at 6:00 p.m. Texas time today at the Huntsville prison. George W. Bush will be weighing the fate of Miguel Flores as the nation weighs George W. Bush’s fate today. You are listening to Pacifica Radio’s Democracy Now! George W. Bush’s phone number in Austin, the governor’s number is (512) 463-2000. That’s (512) 463-2000.

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