-- In a letter to Governor George W. Bush of Texas, Human Rights Watch called on the governor to grant a thirty-day reprieve to Betty Lou Beets, a 62 year old woman slated to be executed for the 1983 murder of her husband. In a separate letter to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, the group urged the board to reconsider its decision not to recommend clemency for Beets.
"This is the perfect opportunity for Governor Bush to display his much touted ‘conservative compassion,'" said Allyson Collins, Senior Researcher, Human Rights Watch.
Human Rights Watch, an international monitoring organization, expressed the concern that Beets' trial attorney was not fit to represent her. He failed to present mitigating evidence of spousal abuse at Beets' sentencing. In addition, Beets' trial attorney did not disclose evidence indicating Beets had not killed her husband for financial gain, an aggravating factor that led to her death sentence. Had the attorney testified on Beets' behalf to present this evidence, he would have been forced to excuse himself from her case and relinquish media rights Beets had agreed to give him to pay for his legal services. Beets' attorney was subsequently convicted for criminal actions in another death penalty case and sentenced to federal prison.
In light of the allegations of spousal abuse, the inadequate legal counsel Beets received, and her trial attorney's apparent conflict of interest, Governor Bush can and should exercise his right to grant a thirty-day reprieve and urge his Board of Pardons and Paroles to further consider this case.