24-year-old Toronto Patterson is scheduled to die today at the hands of the State of Texas. The young African-American man faces execution for a crime he is accused of committing when he was 17 years old.
Toronto Patterson was convicted of shooting and killing his two cousins, ages 3 and 6, and their mother. Prosecutors say he killed them so he could steal the custom chrome wheels from a BMW parked in their garage.
Patterson admits participation in the burglary leading up to the murders, but has maintained for years he was not the killer. The jury never heard evidence that the incriminating statement attributed to Toronto was taken by the same detective who extracted a false confession from another youthful capital murder suspect, just a month later.
It is the third time in four months that a Texas prisoner who was 17 when he committed capital murder is scheduled for execution.
The United States and Iran are the only countries in the world that actually continue to execute juvenile offenders. Since 1942, the US has executed an estimated 364 juvenile offenders. In the last 25 years, 20 juvenile offenders have been executed in the United States, over half of them in Texas.
17 states say the children who commit crimes when they’re at least 16 years old can be executed; five more states set the minimum age of 17. All young people under 18 years old in this country don’t have the right to vote, sit on a jury, or drink.
Today we’re joined by two young people from Children’s Press Line, a New York-based organization devoted to training young people in journalism. A few weeks ago, Trent and Nina’s group went on a national book tour to interview young people about their views on faith.
They decided they wanted to interview Toronto Patterson. So they wrote a set of questions and gave them to their group leader, Dax Devlon Ross. Ross interviewed Toronto Patterson earlier this month.
Here is Tornoto Patterson’s story, in his own words.
- Toronto Patterson, 24-year old death row inmate set to die today in Texas.