Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Mildly Interesting Case of Reginald Blanton

Reginald Blanton was executed by Texas in October 2009 for the April 2000 murder of Carlos Garza. If you enter his name and the word "innocent" into Google, you will find many articles claiming he was innocent. (My search returned 11,300 hits.) Reading through some of those articles leaves the impression that Reginald may have indeed been innocent. Reading through the appellate decision of Blanton v. Quarterman, however, leaves the impression that Reginald may have indeed been guilty.

I prepared an Actual Innocence Scorecard for the case. You can read the details there if you like. I scored him at 41, meaning I believe he was more likely guilty than not.

Whether Blanton was guilty or innocent, Texas engaged in some of its standard underhanded tactics to secure the conviction.

1. Both eyewitnesses against Blanton recanted during their trial testimony much of what they told the police soon after the murder. Both claimed threats of being charged with capital murder. We won't know if their claims of police thuggery were true since the police did not bother to record the interviews.

2. Texas dug up a jailhouse snitch for the trial.

3. Though Blanton was black, Texas managed to find him an all white jury. The prosecutor used 3 jury shuffles. That's when either attorney can have prospective jurors soon to be called for voir dire moved to the back. The prosecutor was so adept at this maneuver that not a single black juror was among the first 53 to be examined.

I include Reginald Blanton in the list of possibly innocent people whose execution I have reviewed. I provide the complete list below. If you add the scores, you will see that I claim to have so far identifed 5.69 people that Texas has wrongfully executed. They are somewhere in the list below, more likely near the top than the bottom. For those of you confused by my use of decimal counting rather than binary counting, read here.