The Slatest

Texas Executed Terry Edwards on Thursday Night. Shame.

Police officers remove activists during an anti–death penalty protest at the U.S. Supreme Court  on Jan. 17 in Washington.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images

It’s unclear whether Terry Edwards, who was executed on Thursday night after the Supreme Court denied his last-minute appeal, fired the weapon that killed Tommy Walker and Mickell Goodwin at a Dallas area Subway in 2002.

What’s clear are a number of facts. He was involved in a robbery with his cousin Kirk Edwards that led to the murders. The prosecutor in his case used a blatantly false piece of forensic evidence to help convince a jury that Terry was the trigger man and not his cousin as Terry claimed. That same prosecutor had used the exact same false argument to help convict a man for murder named Richard Miles, who was later exonerated.

What seems likely is that the state violated Terry Edwards’ constitutional rights when it struck every single black person in the pool of prospective jurors.

What is clear is that appellate attorneys found a prosecutor list of the names of 32 jurors with the letter “B” written next to them. It’s also clear that the Supreme Court ruled in May that a Georgia scheme where prosecutors labeled black jurors with a “B” and then systematically struck them was ruled a blatant violation of the 14th Amendment.

What’s unclear in this case is whether or not “B” meant “black.” Court files had gone missing. Appellate attorneys needed more time to determine whether or not these jurors were struck because they were labeled as black, which would appear to be a violation of Edwards’ rights under the Equal Protection Clause.

Considering the lack of clarity in this case and the further need to investigate basic questions, the Dallas Morning News called on the state to stay the execution, arguing, “Texas cannot afford to execute Terry Edwards on Thursday.”

But that’s just what Texas did after the justice system and the Supreme Court decided that these questions were not worth answering.

The 43-year-old Edwards said this before he was put to death by lethal injection at 10:17 p.m. in Huntsville, Texas: “Yes, I made peace with God. I hope y’all make peace with this.”

It is this justice system’s great shame that it has.