“Judge in Thuesen Capital Murder Trial Calls for Punishment Reversal” (7/20/15)
– “In 2010, John Thuesen was sentenced to die for the 2009 murders of a pair of siblings in College Station. Now, the judge who presided over the trial is recommending that the punishment be reversed.”
– “Judge Travis Bryan III writes of what he believes were numerous failings by the attorneys who represented Thuesen at trial…and recommends a new punishment phase for Thuesen.”
“Considering War’s Toll in Debate on Death Row” (12/26/13)
– “Mr. Thuesen’s new lawyers argue that had his trial lawyers done a more thorough job of explaining the prevalence and long-term damage of PTSD, the jury would have given him a life sentence.”
– “Some legal and psychiatric experts have called for the courts to exclude veterans with PTSD from execution eligibility.”
– “The tragedy of the wounded combat veteran who faces execution by the nation he has served seems to be an avoidable one, and we, as a society, should take action to ensure that it does not happen” (Dr. Hal Wortzel and Dr. David Arciniegas)
– “Thuesen, a 25-year-old former Marine reservist, called 911 and almost immediately expressed remorse. When he was arrested, he repeatedly asked the police about the victims and tried to explain why he’d kept shooting Rachel and her brother: ‘I felt like I was in like a mode…like training or a game or something.’”
– “In July 2015, Judge Travis Bryan III—the same judge who had presided over the criminal trial—ruled that Thuesen’s lawyers hadn’t adequately explained the significance of his PTSD to jurors, and how it had factored into his actions on the day of the murders. Bryan also ruled that Thuesen’s PTSD wasn’t properly treated by the VA. He recommended that Thuesen be granted a new punishment-phase trial.”
– “The ruling on his case has implications for a question that has concerned the military, veterans’ groups, and death penalty experts: Should service-related PTSD exclude veterans from the death penalty? An answer to this question could affect some of the estimated 300 veterans who now sit on death rows across the country”
“Veteran Appeals Death Sentence” (The Texas Tribune, 2013)
This is how John has been housed for more than 10 years now:
His cell is 2×3 meters with only a tiny window, and he is locked in there 23 hours each day in solitary confinement. The last hour he is taken to one of the “recreation” cages. If he is lucky, it is outside, but there are “recreation” cages inside the building as well, so often he is locked in another room just a bit larger than his cell. All inmates are separated from each other, so during the recreation hour they can only have social contact through the bars.
Also, he never has a chance to have contact visits and cannot embrace his loved ones as long as he is on Death Row. Bulletproof glass keeps visitors away from him, and they talk to him on a phone.
These pictures from Texas Death Row at the Polunsky Unit show John’s environment. We share them here thanks to the Freedom of Information Act.