Napoleon Beazley

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Napoleon Beazley
Born (1976-08-05)August 5, 1976
Died May 28, 2002(2002-05-28) (aged 25)
Criminal penalty Death
Criminal status Executed
Conviction(s) Murder

Napoleon Beazley (August 5, 1976 – May 28, 2002) was a convicted murderer executed by lethal injection by the State of Texas for the murder of 63-year-old businessman John Luttig in 1994. Beazley shot Luttig in his garage on April 19, 1994 in order to steal his family's car. Beazley also shot at Luttig's wife, but he missed and she survived the assault by playing dead. Beazley carried out the crime with two accomplices, Cedrick and Donald Coleman, who later testified against him. Both are serving life sentences in prison.

Beazley's case is notable because he was 17 years, eight and one-half months old at the time of the offense and because his victim was the father of a United States federal judge, J. Michael Luttig. During his appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court, three of the nine justices recused themselves because of their personal ties to Judge Luttig, leaving six justices to review the case. Justice Antonin Scalia recused himself because Luttig had clerked for him, while Justices David Souter and Clarence Thomas recused themselves because Luttig had led the George H. W. Bush Administration's successful effort to gain U.S. Senate confirmation for them to the Supreme Court.[1]

On August 13, 2001, the Court voted 3-3 on Beazley's request for a stay of execution, with the tie vote resulting in a rejection of the request.[2] On May 28, 2002, the Court voted unanimously 6-0 to reject Beazley's request for a writ of habeas corpus.[3]

Beazley's execution sparked a fierce debate between opponents and supporters of the death penalty, particularly with respect to juvenile offenders.[4] Some organizations, such as Amnesty International, argued in favor of clemency due to his age (Beazley was at the time of the offense 3½ months from his 18th birthday) and their opposition to the death penalty in general.[5]

Beazley was one of the last juvenile offenders to be executed in the United States. In 2005, the Supreme Court (in Roper v. Simmons) banned the practice of executing offenders who were under the age of 18 when they committed their crimes.

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  1. ^ Bonner, Raymond (August 14, 2001). "Three Abstain as Supreme Court Declines to Halt Texas Execution". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Beazley, Napoleon v. Johnson, Dir. TX DOCJ" (PDF). FindLaw. 2001-08-13. Retrieved 2007-06-30. 
  3. ^ "Habeas Corpus denied in re Napoleon Beazley" (PDF). FindLaw. 2002-05-28. Retrieved 2007-06-30. 
  4. ^ "Death row inmate is hardly a victim". Pro-Death Retrieved 2007-06-30. 
  5. ^ "Too young to vote, old enough to be executed". Amnesty International. 2001-07-31. Retrieved 2007-06-30. 

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