Executions in Texas down in 2020, lowest since 1996

Anti-death penalty group says there were fewer executions partially due to COVID-19

SAN ANTONIO – The state of Texas executed three convicted killers and juries across the state handed down just two death sentences in 2020.

In Bexar County, where the capital murder trial of accused cop killer Otis McKane is on hold due to COVID-19 concerns, there have been only two death sentences imposed since 2009.

”I think Bexar County is really emplematic of this shift, both in terms of jury rejections of the death penalty and prosecutors who are moving the county away from it,” said Kristin Cuellar, of the Texas Coalition Against the Death Penalty.

Though Bexar County District Attorney Joe Gonzales is seeking the death penalty for McKane, he has said that the death penalty should be sought only for “the worst of the worst.”

”Joe Gonzales is part of the wave of what we consider reform-oriented prosecutors who have pledged to be more limited in their use of the death penalty,” Cuellar said.

Though COVID-19 concerns are part of the reason for the low number of Texas executions in 2020, Cuellar said that “the use of the death penalty has declined significantly over the last two decades.”

Cuellar added that when the Texas Legislature convenes next week lawmakers will have two death penalty abolition bills to consider.

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