The path to the nation’s busiest death chamber winds through a court of last resort where the judge recently refused to keep her office open past 5 p.m. to accept a last-minute appeal from an inmate about to be executed. Judge Sharon Keller’s relentless tough-on-crime approach earned her the nickname ”Killer Keller,” and condemned prisoners in Texas know she is unlikely to spare them. Keller, 54, cultivates her reputation; her campaign literature shows a shadowy figure behind bars with the headline: ”He won’t be voting for Judge Sharon Keller.” On the night Keller refused to keep court open, Michael Richard’s lawyers had asked to file a last-minute appeal. They appealed through the federal system instead; the Supreme Court turned down his case. Richard was put to death at 9:30 p.m. Sept. 25 for the rape and murder of a Houston-area woman. Judges in Texas are elected; experts say a law-and-order platform is the only way to win a seat. ”What are they going to say? I promise to be soft on crime and let criminals go? No, they’re going to say just the opposite and they do,” said Jim Marcus of the University of Texas School of Law.
The Associated Press
Texas judge cultivates ‘killer’ reputation