Saturday, June 5, 2010

You can click here to send an email to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles <>  using Amnesty International's Action Center.


David Lee Powell, convicted and sentenced to death in 1978 for the murder of Austin Police Officer Ralph Ablanedo, is scheduled to be executed in Huntsville on June 15, 2010.

  There will be a large group of people attending outside the prison walls, including Austin Police Officers.  In fact, the Austin Police Association has chartered a bus and booked a block of discounted hotel rooms to bring in as many uniforms as possible in a show of force <> , or as they call it, “support for the family”.  In other words, they will be celebrating the death of David Lee Powell. The Austin Police flooded the courtroom with up to 100 uniformed officers every time David Lee Powell was sentenced, showing the jury that they lived for his death. 

 Now, 32 years after the first trial, even though many officers were not even born when this crime occurred, the torch has been passed.  The Police Association is out of step with the community that its members serve.  As police officers, the members of the Association serve with dignity and honor and provide a critical and much appreciated service to the community.  As people who celebrate the death of another person, out of some sense of getting even, they bring dishonor to themselves and Austin. 

 Though they will not string David Powell up in a tree, the revelry they plan conjures up those haunting images. There has been a spirited movement to try to halt David’s execution, spearheaded by a group calling themselves Let David Live.  The idea that, after 32 years of living in desperate conditions on Death Row, after his case has been reversed twice, the State of Texas still means to execute this man is intolerable to many people in Travis County.  Those people have mobilized to flood the DA’s office with letters and calls, asking her to withdraw the death warrant.

David is an extraordinary human being, as the video “Saving David Powell” and his website will attest. 

 See David’s story at <> David held all the promise and hope of the gifted college student that he was in the late 60s.  He was an idealist who fell into using methamphetamines, became addicted, and lost his way. By 1978, he was struggling inside a deep speed psychosis, and in this state – frightened and paranoid -- he killed Ralph Ablanedo after a traffic stop.  David has expressed deep remorse, managed to find ways to invest his life with meaning, served innumerable needs of others on Death Row, teaching and mentoring scores of people, and apologized to Officer Ablanedo’s family.  Except for the terrible murder of Officer Ablanedo, David has no history of violence, before or after this incident – even during his 32 years on Death Row. The public needs to know that the man they are killing has moved in the direction of redemption for three decades and is an immensely valuable and productive human being.  They should know that, in the waning years of the death penalty in the history of our country, they are putting to death a man who is utterly unworthy of execution and indisputably worthy of life.  They should know that putting David Powell to death is as much a testament to the non-viability of the death penalty as is the execution of people who have been wrongfully convicted. And the people of Travis County, the most progressive county in Texas, need to know that they are supporting a policy of vengeance instead of true justice.

  To learn more about the case of David Powell, visit <>  or watch a 29 minute documentary, divided into four parts on YouTube: Part one <> , Part two <> , Part three <> , Part four <> .

David has expressed remorse for his actions in 1978. Because of the sincerity of his remorse and the compassionate life he has led while on death row, David deserves to have his sentence commuted from death.  Read an article in the Austin American-Statesman <>  about the letter David Powell wrote on December 31, 2009 apologizing to the family of Ralph Ablanedo, the officer he killed in 1978.

 If David Powell is executed, he will be the 460th person executed in Texas since 1982 and the 221st person executed since Rick Perry became governor. He will be the 13th person executed in Texas in 2010.