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The Texas law of parties[1] states that a person can be criminally responsible for the actions of another in certain circumstances, including "[i]f, in the attempt to carry out a conspiracy to commit one felony, another felony is committed by one of the conspirators, all conspirators are guilty of the felony actually committed, though having no intent to commit it, if the offense was committed in furtherance of the unlawful purpose and was one that should have been anticipated as a result of the carrying out of the conspiracy."

In Texas capital cases, a person may be convicted under the law of parties, but may not be sentenced to death if convicted under the law of parties unless the sentencing jury finds beyond a reasonable doubt that "the defendant actually caused the death of the deceased or did not actually cause the death of the deceased but intended to kill the deceased or another or anticipated that a human life would be taken."[2]

Convictions under the lawEdit

People convicted under the law include Robert Lynn Pruett, Thomas Bartlett Whitaker, Kenneth Foster, Jeffery Lee Wood, Clinton Lee Young, Steven Michael Woods, Jr., Robert Lee Thompson,[3] John Adams,[4] Ray Jasper,[5] Joseph Nichols,[6][7] Randy Halprin, and Patrick Murphy Jr. (the latter two being part of the Texas Seven). Foster's sentence would later be commuted to life imprisonment, one of only three persons convicted of capital murder to have his sentence commuted since restoration of the death penalty in the 1980s.[citation needed]

Miguel Angel Martinez[8] was sentenced to death under law of parties, aged 17 in 1991. His co-defendant admitted to all three murders but only received a 41 years sentence, despite being more culpable than Martinez[9][10] Martinez was present at the scene and inflicted one wound post- mortem, under duress, and tried to leave the scene. A third accomplice was involved but never tried, illustrating an inconsistent application of the law of parties. Martinez's sentence was commuted to a life sentence as the result of an international campaign. The co-defendant, Venegas, will be released 2033. To date Martinez remains in prison despite being eligible for parole since 2006.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Texas Penal Code Section 7.02, Criminal Responsibility for Conduct of Another". 2016. Retrieved August 1, 2016.
  2. ^ "Texas Penal Code Section 37.071, Procedure in Capital Case". 2016. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  3. ^ "Document – USA: Choosing death again: Texas governor rejects clemency recommendation". 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011. Robert Lee Thompson, a 34-year-old African American man, was put to death on the evening of 19 November 2009 for the murder of a store worker 13 years earlier.
  4. ^ "Document – USA (Texas): Death penalty / Legal concern, Gregory Edward Wright (m)". 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
  5. ^ "A Letter From Ray Jasper, Who Is About to Be Executed, Hamilton Nolan (m)". 2014. Archived from the original on March 5, 2014. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  6. ^ "Document – USA: Breaking a lethal habit: A look back at the death penalty in 2007". 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
  7. ^ "Document – USA: One county, 100 executions : Harris County and Texas – a lethal combination". 2011. Retrieved September 14, 2011.
  8. ^ "Laredo's 'triple-ax murders' detailed in new Netflix docuseries -". 14 August 2018.
  9. ^ "I am a Killer: Miguel Martinez". Crime + Investigation. 17 June 2018.
  10. ^ Thorpe, JeriLynn; Times, LMTonline com / Laredo Morning (13 September 2018). "Petition to free Laredoan who received life sentence draws worldwide support". Laredo Morning Times.