Convicted killers Robert Pruett and Robert Garza are weeks away from execution. Law students are their last hope of survival. Kelly Hickman is a law student and volunteer at the Death Penalty Clinic at the University of Houston Law Centre. The project was set up in the face of a shortage of lawyers for prisoners facing a death sentence and to help students hone their legal skills.
Kelly Hickman wants to get Robert Pruett a stay of execution. Pruett who was convicted of killing prison guard Daniel Nagle in 1999. He was originally sentenced to life when aged sixteen when part of a joint enterprise type law, he was convicted for the murder of his neighbour, even though his father was responsible for the death.
Kelly plans certain strategies to overturn the death sentence. Looking into mitigating factors that may had not been presented in the original trial. After some weeks on the case she manages to get Pruett a sixty day reprieve and later the execution was delayed so further DNA testing could be conducted.
Obviously the clinic at the university is pleased with the outcome but nine out of ten cases, their intervention is unsuccessful. You have to be very resilient with this type of work. No such last minute reprieve could come to the aid of Robert Garza, he was executed.
As for the family of Daniel Nagle, the reprieve sends mixed messages. His widow has had personal problems since his death. His son was just an infant when his father died and was raised by his grandparents. Now after so many years, they have been told that the person responsible for the guard's death may not be the correct man.
This episode of Life and Death Row looks into the these final months of death row prisoners where desperate last ditch technical appeals and pleas for clemency are made.
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