Those of you who keep up with this blog may remember an earlier post about Iris Morgenstern and her former student Robert Avila, who now lives on death row in Texas. Iris and a team of lawyers have continued to lobby for Robert’s life, and yesterday, within a week of his execution date, they received good news. Judge Ana Perez granted Robert a ninety-day stay of execution, putting his new execution date in July 2013.
Robert received an earlier stay in December. He was then scheduled to be killed on the feast day of the Virgen de Guadalupe–a significant date in the religious calendar for many people in Robert’s hometown of El Paso, Texas. The criminal justice ministry group at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Robert’s family, and other supporters successfully campaigned to have his execution date moved, which is how he received an execution date of April 10, 2013.
Iris and Robert’s lawyers are very hopeful that new evidence will grant him a new trial. Robert, Iris, and I are all very grateful to those of you who wrote letters to Robert in response to my earlier blog post. People in prison, especially those on death row, need to know that they are not forgotten and that their lives have value, and those letters helped Robert through a terrible time. Mil gracias. Robert’s battle for his life is not over, but this is a significant victory for him and for those of us who oppose the death penalty.