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Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

Oklahoma executes Jessie James Cummings

Jessie James Cummings
Jessie James Cummings
A man described by investigators as a cold and evil man was put to death Thursday at 6:11 p.m. at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary.

Jessie James Cummings, 52, was sentenced to die by lethal injection for the 1991 Coal County murder of his 11-year-old niece, Melissa Moody.

Cummings claimed that he was victim of a plot between his 2 wives and was innocent of the crimes.

Cummings is the 2nd Oklahoma inmate put to death this year. Terry Lyn Short was executed in June for an Oklahoma County firebomb killing.

At the time of the slaying, Cummings was married to 2 women, Juanita and Sherry Cummings. Both women lived with Cummings and had children with him. Prosecutors said Cummings controlled the women and urged them to kill his sister, Melissa's mother. Judy Moody Mayo, 42, was shot by Juanita as she sat in the living room of the Cummings' home. Jessie Cummings was in Oklahoma City with his father at the time of his half-sister's murder. Mayo's body was found near Atoka Lake on Sept. 9, 1991. Melissa's body was found about a month later in Choctaw County.

Prosecutors said Cummings helped the women dump his sister's body in a farm pond near Atoka Lake. After molesting his niece, she was taken to rural Choctaw County and stabbed to death, according to court records. Her skeletal remains were found Oct. 16, 1991 near the bridge over Clear Boggy River in rural Choctaw County.

It would take 3 years for investigators to solve the murders. In 1994, Juanita Cummings went to police and told them about the murder plot. Melissa Moody's body was exhumed and a medical anthropologist determined that she was stabbed to death, confirming statements from the Cummings wives.

Jessie Cummings was convicted in 1996 by a Coal County jury for the death of his sister and niece. The jury sentenced him to death. In 1998, the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals threw out Cummings' conviction in his sister's death, saying testimony only from accomplices couldn't link someone to a crime. Juanita Cummings is serving a life sentence after being convicted of murdering Mayo. Sherry Cummings is serving a 35-year-sentencer for allowing child abuse and being accessory to a crime after the fact.

During his clemency hearing in August, Cummings continued to deny his role in the crime and asked the Pardon and Parole Board to give him clemency so we could, "continue to clear his name." The board unanimously denied his request. International anti-death penalty groups had rallied against Cummings' execution, but there were no protestors outside the gate of the prison in McAlester before the execution.

While Cummings denied his role in the crime, Attorney General Drew Edmondson said the state proved its case.

"Cummings was properly convicted and sentenced to death for the murder of Melissa Moody," Edmondson said. "Appeals courts at every level have upheld this conviction and sentence. My thoughts are with the family and friends of Melissa and her mother, Judy."

Cummings becomes the 2nd condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Oklahoma and the 88th overall since the state resumed capital punishment in 1990. Oklahoma trails only Texas (414) and Virginia (102) in the numbers of inmates executed since the US Supreme Court re-legalized the death penalty in America on July 2, 1976.

Cummings becomes the 24th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 1123rd overall since the nation resumed executions on January 17, 1977.

Sources: The Oklahoman, Rick Halperin, October 26, 2015

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