Today's Dallas Morning News publishes the editorial, "Is this the type of execution Texans are comfortable with?"
Texans overwhelmingly support the death penalty, and, if we may presume to read their minds, the kind of execution they’re comfortable with looks like this: It involves a perpetrator whose guilt is beyond dispute, who’s fully responsible for his actions, and whose arrest and prosecution were free of any hint of chicanery.
That man is not Max Soffar, 58, a Texas death row inmate since Ronald Reagan’s sixth month in the White House.
The bizarre passage of 33 years is one tip-off that the state has a problematic case against Soffar, convicted twice in a triple slaying during a stickup at a Houston bowling alley.
Today, Soffar’s appellate lawyers continue to battle the state, but he’s got a bigger fight on his hands — an aggressive strain of liver cancer that could prove fatal within months.
The Constitution Project, a bipartisan justice reform group, has taken up for Soffar in a clemency petition to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. Writing for the group, former Texas Gov. Mark White and former FBI Director William Sessions ask for compassionate relief so Soffar can die at home.
Attorneys have made a rare clemency request for one of Texas' longest-serving death row inmates, saying he should be freed before inoperable liver cancer soon takes his life.
Max Soffar, 58, has been on death row more than 33 years for a 1980 robbery at a Houston bowling alley where three people were shot and killed and a fourth was maimed. Soffar and his lawyers long have maintained that he's innocent, although he has been tried, convicted and condemned twice, most recently in 2006.
Soffar told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he "hurts bad ... like a squeezing pain on my liver."
"Nothing can save me, I'm going to die," Soffar said of the tumor that he said doctors discovered in June. "I've talked to my doctor — maybe five months, maybe four months, maybe three weeks."
There is no precedent, at least in modern times, for the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend to the governor that clemency be granted in a death penalty case under these circumstances. Requests typically are filed as an inmate's execution is nearing or imminent. Soffar does not have an execution date and an appeal for him remains before a federal court in Houston.
Earlier coverage of Max Soffar's case begins at the link.