Target: Texas Board of Parole and Pardons
Goal: Commute the sentence of or grant a stay of execution to a man whose trial did not meet international human rights standards and whose execution violates the U.S. Constitution
Edgar Tamayo has been in prison for nearly twenty years after being convicted of killing a Houston police officer in 1994. While his crime is undoubtedly grave, his rights have been grossly violated at both a national and an international level. Demand that the Texas Board of Parole and Pardons acknowledge the serious mishandling of Tamayo’s case, and urge the board to take the death penalty off the table at least until he has received a fair trial under U.S. and international law.
When Tamayo was arrested in 1994, his status as a Mexican national gave him the right to seek consular assistance, as laid out in the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR). He was never informed of this right, and Mexican authorities only found out about his situation a week before his trial began. Consular assistance could have been crucial for Tamayo’s trial; in appeals, it has provided key information about Tamayo’s past childhood abuse, “his developmental problems, [and] a serious head injury he sustained when he was 17 and its impact on his behavior,” all of which would have likely affected his capital sentence. A 2008 psychological evaluation “put Edgar Tamayo’s intellectual functioning in the “mild mental retardation” range, which would render his execution unconstitutional under US law,” Amnesty International reports.
Ten years ago, the International Court of Justice ruled that the United States was obligated to review Edgar Tamayo’s case, as well as the cases of fifty other Mexican men on death row. It reaffirmed its ruling in 2009, warning the U.S. that noncompliance with the ruling would signify “internationally wrongful conduct.” A bill to implement the ICJ recommendations was introduced in 2011, but so far it has not been passed into law. It is unfair and criminally stupid to execute Edgar Tamayo when there is pending legislation that might invalidate his capital sentence. Sign the petition and demand that the Texas Board of Parole and Pardons either commute Tamayo’s sentence to life imprisonment or, at the very least, grant him a stay of execution until it is certain that his rights under both the Constitution and international human rights law have been respected and honored.
Dear Board Members,
I am writing in reference to Edgar Tamayo, a death row inmate convicted of killing Officer Guy Gaddis of the Houston Police Department. While I, too, abhor Tamayo’s crime, I am obligated to point out that his legal rights–both under the constitution and international human rights laws–have been largely disregarded throughout his case. I implore you to either commute his sentence to life imprisonment or at least grant him a stay of execution until it is completely certain that he has been allowed every legal right due to him.
When he was arrested in 1994, Tamayo, a Mexican national, was not advised of his right to seek consular assistance. Subsequent help from the Mexican consulate throughout the appeals process brought key information to light: Tamayo was abused as a child, he suffered from development issues, and a severe head injury when he was seventeen had led him to increasingly depend on drugs and alcohol. This information, missing from the initial trial, may have had an enormous impact on Tamayo’s sentencing, and the fact that it was omitted is nothing short of appalling.
Furthermore, Amnesty International reports, a 2008 psychological evaluation “put Edgar Tamayo’s intellectual functioning in the ‘mild mental retardation’ range, which would render his execution unconstitutional under US law.”
Finally, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has found that the United States’ conduct throughout Tamayo’s arrest and trial violates Article 36 of the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (VCCR). A bill introduced in 2011 aims at addressing these serious concerns, but it has not yet been passed into law. It is immeasurably stupid and counterproductive to execute Edgar Tamayo when there is legislation pending that may invalidate the terms of his capital sentence. I therefore urge you to grant Edgar Tamayo a stay of execution at least until the relevant legislation can be passed and his case can be reviewed under it. Anything less would constitute a violation of international human rights laws and would be a horrifying black mark on the United States’ human rights record.
Do what is right. Do not execute Edgar Tamayo.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Mr.Thomas via Flickr