Athens Review, Athens, Texas

December 23, 2013

Executions down in United States

Texas still leads the country with 16, Florida second

From Staff Reports
The Athens Review

LOG CABIN — An organization that keeps track of executions in the United States reports that 2013 was only the second time almost two decades that less than 40 offenders have been executed.

A report released Thursday by the Death Penalty Information Center in Washington DC states that there were 39 executions in the country. The report singles out two states as having the most during the year. Texas led with 16, followed by Florida, with seven.

Taking the study down to the county level, the DPIC reports that 85 percent of the counties have not had a case resulting in an execution in more than 45 years. Henderson County cases have brought about two executions since the death penalty was reinstated in 1980/

  “Twenty years ago, use of the death penalty was increasing.  Now it is declining by almost every measure,” Richard Dieter, DPIC’s Executive Director and the author of the report said. “The recurrent problems of the death penalty have made its application rare, isolated, and often delayed for decades. More states will likely reconsider the wisdom of retaining this expensive and ineffectual practice.”

  The year 2000 was significant for Henderson County, with two offenders executed. James Walter Moreland died on January 27 for then 1982 killing of two men. On October 9, of that year, the bodies of Clinton Abbott and John Cravey were discovered in Cravey's trailer home in Eustace. He was found guilty in 173rd District Court in June 1983.

  In 1985, Betty Lou Beets was convicted for the death of her fifth husband, firefighter Jimmy Don Beets, who was found buried under a wishing well on Mrs. Beets’ property in the Cherokee Shores subdivision in Payne Springs. Investigators later ruled he had been shot to death. Police also found the body of Mrs. Beets’ fourth husband, Doyle Wayne Barker, buried in the yard. Barker had gone missing in 1981. Beets was executed on Feb. 24, 2000.

  The Death Penalty Information Center is a non-profit organization serving the media and the public with analysis and information on issues concerning capital punishment. DPIC was founded in 1990.