Shaka Sankofa The Execution Of Gary Graham

Shaka Sankofa (Gary Graham) was executed by the State of Texas for the murder of Bobby Grant Lambert

According to court documents Shaka Sankofa (Gary Graham) was seventeen years old when he would murder Bobby Grant Lambert in a grocery store parking lot during a robbery.

Now according to Shaka Sakofa (Gary Graham) he had nothing to do with the murder of Bobby Grant Lambert however he would admit that he was on a month long crime spree that included assaults, robberies and a sexual assault

Shaka Sakofa (Gary Graham) would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death

Shaka Sakofa (Gary Graham) would be executed by lethal injection on June 22 2000

Shaka Sakofa Photos

Shaka Sankofa - Texas Gary Graham execution

Shaka Sakofa FAQ

When Was Shaka Sakofa Executed

Shaka Sakofa was executed on June 22 2000

Shaka Sakofa Case

Gary Graham (Shaka Sankofa), subject of the most contentious Texas death penalty case since Gov. George W. Bush began running for president, was executed Thursday night for a 1981 murder he said he did not commit. Graham, 36, received a lethal injection for the killing of a man in a holdup outside a Houston supermarket. The state parole board and appeals courts rejected his arguments that he was convicted on shaky evidence from a single eyewitness and that his trial lawyer did a poor job. Graham, who had vowed to “fight like hell” on the trip to the death chamber, put up a struggle. He was strapped to the gurney around his wrists and across his head — more restraints than are normally used in Texas executions.

He made a long, defiant final statement in which he reasserted his innocence, said he was being lynched and called the death penalty a holocaust for black Americans. He asked to be called Shaka Sankofa to reflect his African heritage. “I die fighting for what I believed in,” Graham said. “The truth will come out.”

Bush said he supported the execution and pointed out that (Shaka Sankofa) Graham’s case had been reviewed by 33 state and federal judges. “After considering all of the facts I am convinced justice is being done,” Bush said after final appeals were denied. “May God bless the victim, the family of the victim, and may God bless Mr. Graham.” Graham’s supporting witnesses included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Biana Jagger, representing Amnesty International. Witnesses said Jackson and Graham prayed and Graham looked at Jackson just before he died. Also present were some of the victims of Graham’s other crimes, and Bobby Hanners, the grandson of Bobby Lambert, the man he was convicted of killing.

“My heart goes out to the Graham family as they begin the grieving process. I also pray Gary Graham (Shaka Sankofa) made peace with God. But I truly believe justice has been served,” Hanners said. Outside the Huntsville prison, hundreds of Graham supporters gathered in stifling heat and humidity near the brick building where 222 executions have now been carried out since capital punishment resumed in Texas in 1982. The total is by far the highest in the nation. When the Texas parole board, made up of 18 Bush appointees, refused to block the execution, that left the Republican governor with no options. The single 30-day reprieve a Texas governor may unilaterally give a condemned inmate was issued to Graham (Shaka Sankofa) by Bush’s predecessor in 1993. The parole board, which has spared a prisoner only once during Bush’s tenure, could have granted a 120-day reprieve, a commutation to a lesser sentence, or a conditional pardon.

“I can say, unequivocally, that the board’s decision not to recommend clemency was reached after a complete and unbiased review of the petition and evidence submitted,” board chairman Gerald Garrett said, hours before the execution. The Supreme Court, a federal judge and state appeals court also turned down Graham’s last-minute appeals, which delayed the execution for more than two hours.

The nation’s high court turned down (Shaka Sankofa) Graham’s appeal on a 5-4 vote along its conservative-liberal ideological fault line. Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist and Justices Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony M. Kennedy and Clarence Thomas voted to reject the appeal. Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen G. Breyer voted to order the execution postponed, presumably to give the court more time to consider his appeal. Graham (Shaka Sankofa) was convicted of killing 53-year-old Bobby Lambert in a holdup outside a Houston supermarket one night in 1981. He pleaded guilty to 10 robberies around the same time but said he was innocent of the murder.

No physical evidence tied Graham (Shaka Sankofa) to the killing, and ballistics tests showed that the gun he had when he was arrested was not the murder weapon. But the witness who identified him, Bernadine Skillern, has never wavered. Skillern, who was waiting in her car outside the supermarket while her daughter ran inside, saw the holdup from about 30 feet away. She said the lighting in the parking lot was adequate for her to see Graham (Shaka Sankofa). “I don’t feel joy and I don’t feel sadness,” she said after the execution. “I only feel relief. I hope to get back to my privacy, put this incident behind me and now move on.”

Graham (Shaka Sankofa) also argued that his lawyer during the trial, Ron Mock, should have introduced other witnesses who would say he was not the killer. But those witnesses initially told police they couldn’t identify the killer, and prosecutors said they were not actual eyewitnesses. During Bush’s 51/2 years in office, 133 men and two women have been executed. He said he would treat Graham’s case no differently than any other he has considered. Two years ago, Bush told the parole board to review the case of serial killer Henry Lee Lucas because of questions about Lucas’ conviction. His death sentence eventually was commuted to life. This month, Bush granted a condemned man a 30-day reprieve so he could pursue DNA tests. The debate over Graham’s case came amid growing questions about the death penalty. Illinois Gov. George Ryan has placed a moratorium on executions, and Bush and Vice President Al Gore have been forced to address the issue as they campaign for president. Graham’s case brought the loudest protests since pickax killer Karla Faye Tucker was executed in 1998, the first woman put to death in Texas since the Civil War era. “I recognize there are good people who oppose the death penalty,” Bush said. “I’ve heard their message and I respect their heartfelt point of view.”

The execution was witnessed by supporters that included the Rev. Jesse Jackson, the Rev. Al Sharpton and Amnesty International representative Bianca Jagger. Leading up to the execution, Graham (Shaka Sankofa) refused meals but met for about an hour with Jackson, who said he and the inmate talked and prayed. “He was amazingly upbeat,” Jackson said. “There were no tears shed. He had a sense of inner peace. He feels he was being used as a kind of change agent to expose the system. With every passing hour … there is mass education around the world about what is happening in Texas.” Outside the prison, eight people were arrested for breaking through police lines and a juvenile was arrested for throwing a plastic bottle at a prison administrator, who was not hurt. Other activists burned American flags. Another 150 people protested outside the governor’s mansion in Austin. Protests were also held as far away as San Francisco and Northampton, Mass. In both cities, death penalty opponents were arrested for blocking traffic.

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