Take Action to Stop the Execution of Brian Terrell

posted Dec 1, 2015, 7:23 AM by GFADP staff   [ updated Dec 1, 2015, 8:01 AM by Kathryn Hamoudah ]


I’m writing today to ask for your help to stop the execution of Brian Terrell who is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, December 8 at 7:00pm. 

If this execution goes forward, it will be Georgia’s sixth execution in a year. 

Mr. Terrell was convicted of murdering John Watson. There is no physical evidence implicating Mr. Terrell in Mr. Watson’s murder despite a considerable amount of physical evidence recovered from the crime scene.  The case against Terrell rested primarily on allegations made by his then 18-year-old cousin Jermaine Johnson, who provided the only direct testimony suggesting Terrell's involvement in the crime.  When questioned by police, Johnson lied about his whereabouts on the day of the crime.  He was subsequently arrested and held in jail for more than a year.  Finally, after being informed by police that Brian was the primary target of their investigation, he agreed to testify against Brian to avoid the death penalty.  Upon providing a taped statement to police and agreeing to testify, he was allowed to plead guilty to robbery and was sentenced to five years imprisonment. Aside from Johnson, no eyewitness placed Brian at or near Mr. Watson’s house on the day of the murder.  

Mr. Terrell was tried three times for the murder of Mr. Watson. In July 2008, Brian’s death sentence was reversed by the Superior Court of Butts County after state habeas corpus proceedings that included a detailed evidentiary hearing.  The habeas court held that Mr. Terrell’s lawyer had been ineffective for failing to present expert testimony from an independent forensic pathologist and an independent crime scene investigator.  The state appealed the habeas court’s grant of sentencing relief, and the Georgia Supreme Court reversed it in 2009. 

During each of Mr. Terrell’s three capital murder trials, the major contours of the state’s weak case against him were the same.  While the first jury recognized these deficiencies and refused to convict Mr. Terrell, law enforcement and prosecutors plodded on, refining the way they charged and presented their case to obtain a conviction and death sentence.  They focused their sights on Mr. Terrell, ignoring or explaining away physical evidence and testimony that did not fit their theory, and in the process disregarded their duty to seek justice and not a conviction.

How you can help:

1.      Sign a Letter to the Parole Board

Mr. Terrell has maintained his innocence from the day of his arrest until now and was convicted on the basis of unreliable eyewitness testimony. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that our criminal justice system is not devoid of error, and we now know that 155 individuals have been released from death rows across the United States since 1976.

Mr. Terrell’s lawyers will present a clemency petition to the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles on Monday, December 7 at 9:00 am. The Parole Board is the entity in Georgia that has the sole authority to grant or deny clemency (either to commute, or reduce, a death sentence to life without parole). Only after a person has exhausted all appeals and other avenues of relief will the Parole Board consider granting clemency. 


We could really use your help getting the clemency letter signed ASAP. We plan to send the letters in a bundle on Wednesday, December 2.


2.   Join Concerned Georgians for a Press Conference

On Wednesday, December 2, 2015 at 1:00pm, Georgians for Alternatives to the Death Penalty (GFADP) will join Mawuli Davis, co-founder of Davis Bozeman Law Firm; Sara Totonchi, Executive Director of the Southern Center for Human Rights; Pastor Derrick Rice, Senior Pastor/Founder Sankofa United Church of Christ and with Concerned Black Clergy; community members and concerned Georgians for a press conference at the Georgia Board of Pardons and Paroles, as we call on the Board to grant Brian Terrell clemency and highlight the issues of police and prosecutorial misconduct that permeate his case. Terrell is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday, December 8, 2015 at 7:00 pm, despite serious doubts about his guilt.


Floyd Veterans Memorial Building                                                                            

2 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, S.E.

Atlanta, GA 30334


3.  Contact Governor Nathan Deal to Influence His Parole Board

While the parole is the only entity that can grant clemency, the five members are appointed by the Governor. Please take a moment to contact Governor Deal and urge him to intervene. Please take this action until Tuesday, December 8. Below is a sample script.


Governor Nathan Deal

Office of the Governor

203 State Capitol; Atlanta, GA 30334

Tel: 404-656-1776

Web: http://gov.georgia.gov/webform/contact-governor-domestic-form

Sample Call/Email:

“Hi, my name is ______, and I am a Georgia voter from ______. I am writing to ask you to urge your parole board to grant clemency for Brian Terrell. Mr. Terrell is scheduled to be executed on December 8 and I am deeply troubled that Georgia might proceed with this execution given the real possibility of Mr. Terrell’s innocence. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that our criminal justice system is not devoid of error and we now know that 155 individuals have been released from death rows across the United States, since 1976. Again, please urge your parole board to grant Brian Terrell clemency. Thank you.


Many thanks in advance!