Activists seek clemency for terminally ill Texas death row inmate

Reuters News
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Posted: Nov 21, 2014 6:14 PM

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN Texas (Reuters) - Activists delivered a petition to Texas Governor Rick Perry on Friday with more than 100,000 signatures seeking the release of a death row inmate they say is terminally ill and only has weeks to live.

The governor's office was not immediately available to comment on the petition launched by religious groups and activists including the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Max Soffar, convicted in the July 1980 slaying of three people at a Houston bowling alley.

"This is the time for mercy – let’s not let him fall through the cracks of justice; let’s not let him die behind bars," the petition said. It is seeking clemency so that he can die at home.

Soffar's case has been the focus of anti-death penalty campaigners for years. They have said he is an innocent man largely convicted on the basis of a confession signed after days of "oppressive interrogation" and without clear objective evidence pointing to his guilt.

The state has maintained the confession was voluntary, lawful and implicates him as the murderer.

Soffar, 58, has been on death row for more than 30 years. He was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in July 2014 and was told at that time that he only has months to live, according to court papers filed on his behalf.

The three people killed at the bowling alley were Arden Fisher, 17, her boyfriend Tommy Temple, 17, and Stephen Sims, 25. All three were shot execution-style with a handgun, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice said.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Eric Beech)