"Not Giving Up"
My name is Richard Vasquez. I am currently a
Texas death row inmate. I stand convicted of a particularly
heinous crime. There are two key words in my last sentence. The
first is convicted. I would like to elaborate on that one, and
I'll do the same for any other key words that may come along.
Convicted means that a jury consisting of
twelve of my peers believe in my guilt. Being convicted of a
Capital crime is a shade different than any other conviction. It
also means that these same people beleive that I am
unrehabilitatable. That I am a continuing threat to society.
This is actually quite feat considering that no one has ever
attempted to rehabilitate me. I don't have a history of violence.
So, the question is simply this; If no one has trued, how do
they know that I am beyond help? And how did the system that is
supposedly fair and loaded with safeguards miss this very basic
thing? In actuality the system is not what they may perceive it
to be. It is not fair, or safe. And innocent people die because
There is no standard, profile, or criteria
used in qualifying someone for the death penalty. It is all done
rather arbitrarily. Anyone can be sentenced to death in Texas.
Children, the mentally handicapped and first time offenders;
people with no previous criminal history. You can find examples
of all of these on death row. I mention this because many of you
believe that only monsters or serial killers exist here. And
that is what the State wants you to believe. By and large you
will find people very much like yourselves here. Yes, there are
some bad people here but in all of the time that I have been
here, I have yet to meet someone that I would consider to be a
monster, or beyond help. Sure, they are people who have made a
mistake. But unrehabilitatable? Truthfully, I doubt anyone has
Our jury system is not what it should or
could be. It is succeptable to human nature and error. Even
though one is technically innocent until proven guilty. How many
of us can say that we are not truly bias? When you have a person
in jail accused of a crime most people reason that "He's not in
there for nothing." This according to our law is unfair. But
human nature is often not a fair judge. The system is also
unfair when it comes to trying someone. The state has virtually
unlimited resources at their disposal. But in support of your
defense, they will only pay a lawyer so much. Often the amount
is not sufficient, hence your defense is also not sufficient.
The system in this way victimizes the poor. I haven't met any
wealthy man on death row, not one. Yet few question this.
So in effect your off to a bad start before
your case ever comes to trial. The jury is probably tainted by
human nature. So automatically you are viewed as guilty, the
prosecutor is viewed as a good guy. After all he is a "crime
fighter" He is an officer of the court, therfore we tend to
believe what he says. Defense attorneys are often seen with
contempt. They are viewed as hired guns, someone associated with
the criminal element. So from the moment you walk into the
courtroom the deck is stacked against you. Prosecutors know of
this advantage, and they exploit it. For effect, they will often
present evidence that is gruesome to view. For example autopsy
photos. Even when someone dies of natural causes, these are
gruesome. Anyone can see that the prejudicial nature of these
photos is not outweighed by their legal value. But in most cases
the judge will allow this. The DA will also use the testimony of
jailhouse or paid informants. And they are not beneath coercing
witnesses to manufacture evidence. They will do whatever it
takes to win a case. They are not interested in justice, only
winning. This interest is directly connected with their personal
gain. By winning these high profile cases they receive a lot of
recognition. They establish a reputation for being tough on
crime. And when it comes time for elections, this helps them
Now for the second key word. Heinous, the
crime that I am convicted of is exactly that. I am convicted of
murdering my four year old step daughter. To make things look
worse for me. They also accused me of sexually assaulting her,
and injecting her with a large amount of cocaine. They say the
murder is a result of me using my hand as a weapon and striking
her on the head.
I will be the first to admit that I'm no
angel. At the time that all of this happened, I was in fact a
herion addict. And I had already had a few misdeanor offenses in
my earlier teen years. But nothing of a violent nature. At the
time of the offense, I was a month away from turning nineteen.
You could say that I was a kid, one with a severe drug habit. Me
and my step-daughters mother were both struggling with addiction,
as well as life in general trying to support our family. We also
had a three month old together. But we are not sexually depraved
or violent people.
In fact evidence exists that the child was
not molested or injected with cocaine. But my court appointed
lawyers failed to call these expert witnesses on my behalf. In
fact the defense that these lawyers provided me can be described
as lacadaisical at best. The situation is further adversely
affected by what I've mentioned earlier; Human nature. In a
crime such as this one can't help but despise the accused.
Factually innocent or not, the accused is seen in a bad light.
It does not take a stretch of the imagination to see how
anything the DA can conger up will be easily believed. Hence the
supposition of being innocent until proven guilty dies quickly.
I was indicted of striking her, thus causing her death. But I
submit to you that I was found guilty largely on the allegations
of sexual assault and having injected her with a drug. These
accusations were not supported by facts. I was in effect
indicted of one thing, and convicted for another.
There are two reasons that the DA used these
heinous accusations. One, he is immune from prosecution. He can
say anything he wants without repercussion. But the main reason
was to bolster an already weak case. He played on peoples
emotions. I had freely given statements that her death was
accidental. That I had not struck her. And the mechanism of her
injury support this. The reason that I believe I am here is
because the authorities had been after me for a while, for drug
related offenses. They could never catch me. So when this
situation presented itself. Instead of it being an accidental
death; It became a capital murder. Fair? hardly.
I had a good and loving relationship with my
step-daughter. I was her dad, she knew no other. I miss her
dearly. I regret that I was not a good role model for her, that
I didn't provide better for her, but most of all, that I didn't
watch her closely enough and this accident happened. Had I been
or done these things we might have been together today.
I know that what you have just read may upset
you. It might have made you angry or sad. These are natural
reactions. I have only presented the truth. Terrible though it
may be. And I ask for very little in return. I would like the
opportunity to first ask all of you not to take your lives for
granted. I have learned how pecious a gift life is. And second I
would like a second chance. A chance to prove my innocence. To
have adequate counsel in a fair trial.
Richard Vasquez # 999319
Polunsky Unit3872 FM 350 South
Livingston, TX 77351