Texas Defender Service has saved 32 lives in just the last four years.
- 24 pretrial clients saved from a death sentence,
- 1 client who received a sentence less than death at trial,
- 5 clients released from death row, and
- 2 clients’ executions stopped
… just since 2018.
The most recent life we’ve saved is Brian Day’s. TDS’s years-long investigation uncovered that Brian suffered from serious mental illness and intense childhood trauma. TDS was able to tell the story of Brian’s life in a way no one ever had, convincing the District Attorney to drop the death charges against him.
When Brian was growing up, his parents rarely took him out of the house. Brian’s father was a Vietnam veteran who eventually died from the after-effects of Agent Orange exposure, and who suffered from serious Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Brian’s father beat Brian until he’d bleed or urinate. His mother also beat him, with wire coat hangers and extension cords.
When Brian was only five, his older cousin started to sexually abuse him. Brian reached out for help, but his family ignored him. When another cousin learned that Brian had reached out for help, that cousin wrapped a dog chain around Brian’s neck and hung him from the porch. The abuse didn’t stop until the perpetrator was paralyzed in a car accident.
The childhood trauma Brian experienced would profoundly affect any of us. Yet as he grew up, Brian tried to overcome his past. He worked hard in school and earned an associate’s degree. He volunteered in his church and at his local freemasons’ chapter. He admired his father’s military service and volunteered for the Texas State Guard. Brian was a devoted, full-time caretaker to his aging parents and an attentive, loving father to his children.
But Brian was unable to fully recover from his childhood. He suffered serious mental illness, including anxiety, depression, and paranoia. Brian never received the help he needed, as a child or as an adult. Although he had no criminal history whatsoever, Brian committed a double homicide several years ago while in the throes of an acute mental-health crisis.
Brian committed a tragic crime, but the death penalty would have been an unconscionable punishment. After two separate mitigation presentations to their office by TDS, the District Attorney agreed. We were able to save Brian’s life – and we couldn’t have done it without your support. Thank you.
Burke Butler, Executive Director
Texas Defender Service