Write a reference list. In any good argument you will present your ideas but then include evidence from credible external sources to support your ideas.

October 2, 2018

Texas Government Online Death Penalty Paper Project

Cindy Casey Brown

El Centro College

Summer 2018


In this presentation you will read about the death penalty in Texas, see pictures, explore websites and see videos.

You will also learn about the insanity defense in Texas.

You will also be presented with a statute (a law) regarding the duty to report child abuse.

The purpose of this exercise is to educate you on the laws in Texas that are significant – and – during you lifetime you may see the United States Supreme Court take up and comment on.

At the end of my presentation I will present you with a fictional case study and then you will write me a paper about your reflections on the work you did and what you saw in this presentation, whether you think the defendant should be charged with the death penalty, whether an insanity defense would be successful, and whether another individual in the case study had a duty to report child abuse and should be charged with a crime. The case study is based on a compilation of a few true Texas cases.

If you want to read the case study first then you can go to the case study slides and start there to get an idea of what you will be writing about. More specific details on the paper are at the end of the power point.

Why are we doing this?

I want you to leave this class being well-versed in the death penalty and the insanity defense.

Texas executes more people than any other state in the country (Texas is a big state) – this is a Texas Government class so you should know about this topic because it is a big topic in this state. During your lifetime the United States Supreme Court will take cases on this topic and make comments on it – you should be familiar with the topic.

The insanity defense – this is a big topic in the news today so I want you to work with it. With the unfortunate mass public shootings going on – if the shooter survives – the shooter is likely to plead the insanity defense – so I want you to understand it.

I think you learn so much more about these topics by doing this exercise and critically thinking through this case study than by reading about it and taking a test on it.

I know this topic can be disturbing and hard to think about – but in a college course like this it is important to address.

And remember – I am NOT trying to make you think one way or the other or push any opinion on you – I am trying to present many sides to a hard topic that will make you think – whatever your opinion is it does not impact your grade – your grade on this project is based on your hard work and critical thinking and analysis and your ability to form opinions and back them up.

Do Not Do This Assignment Around Children

This is a hard topic and many of these photos are hard to see and stories are hard to hear. You are a in a college level course so I know you can handle this material.

But please DO NOT watch these videos or explore these websites around children or in a public place as some of the material is not appropriate for everyone.

Thank you!!

The Death Penalty in Texas

Four degrees of murder in Texas


Intentionally or knowingly causes the death of an individual.


Recklessly causes the death of an individual.

Example: Two men get into a physical fight and one kills the other by beating him severely.

Criminally Negligent Homicide

Causes death by criminal negligence.

Death when driver is drunk.

Death when driver is texting.

Capital Murder / The Death Penalty

This is what we are talking about in this presentation.

Capital Murder – Definition


A defendant can be eligible for the offense of capital murder IF the person commits a murder AND:

(1) murder a police officer or fireman acting in their official duty AND the defendant KNOWS the person is a police officer or fireman.

(2) defendant intentionally commits the murder in the course of committing OR attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or retaliation, or a terroristic threat.

(3) the defendant commits the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration or employs another to commit the murder for remuneration or the promise of remuneration;

(4) the defendant commits the murder while escaping or attempting to escape from a penal institution;

(5) the person, while incarcerated in a penal institution, murders someone who is employed by the penal institution.

(7) the defendant murders more than one person:

(A) during the same criminal transaction; or

(B) during different criminal transactions but the murders are committed pursuant to the same scheme or course of conduct;

(8) the defendant murders an individual under 10 years of age; or

(9) the defendant murders another person in retaliation for or on account of the service or status of the other person as a judge or justice of the supreme court, the court of criminal appeals, a court of appeals, or trial court.

Photos of Death Row Inmates


You can go to this link and click on the photos and it will tell you what the person did – scroll through here and you will realize there are women and men of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds.

Picking a Jury

This can take up to two weeks because potential jurors come in, fill out a questionnaire, then come back a week or so later to the courtroom where the lawyers go through the process of VOIR DIRE – this is the process of questioning the jurors in open court with the goal of seating a jury that is fair and impartial.

Sample Juror Questionnaire



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