Abbott Asked to Grant Clemency in 'Law of Parties' Death Penalty Case

New pressure is being placed on Texas' controversial 'Law of Parties,' which allows participants in a crime to face the same punishment as the person who committed the crime, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The pressure comes as Kerr County District Attorney Lucy Wilke, who, as a prosecutor in the 1990s won a death sentence for Jeff Wood, calls for Governor Abbott to grant clemency to Wood, which would be the first declaration of clemency in his adminsitration.

Wood is on death row for the murder of a gas station clerk during a robbery in Kerrville back in 1996.  Evidence indicated that Wood not only was not in the gas station when the clerk was killed, he was sitting in the car, he didn't even know his friend planned to kill the clerk, and, in fact, didn't know until he was arrested that a murder had even taken place.

Under the Law of Parties, Wood as considered an 'accomplice,' and received the same sentence as the killer, who has been executed.

"A man on death row who did not commit a murder and didn't even know a murder was going to be committed," said State Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano).  "We know that as policy makers we have to act and we have to address this, and that's what we're going to do."

Testimony indicated that Wood, the killer, and the victim had plotted to rob the gas station.  The victim backed out, and the next day when Wood drove the killer to the gas station, he thought to buy some cigarettes, the killer shot the victim, partly out of anger that he had backed out of the robbery plot.

"I am not saying he is completely innocent, he is not perfect, he made a mistake," Leach said of Wood.  "But he is not deserving of the ultimate punishment."

There are those who say the existence of the 'Law of Parties,' which allows people who didn't commit a crime to face the death penalty, further erodes faith in capital punishment in Texas.

"We can be pro-life from the womb to the tomb,"Leach said.  "When we have innocent people on Death Row,' as pro life conservatives, we have to step up."

Wood has already had several execution dates delayed due to the controversy.  He is now set to be exected early in 2018.

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