Petition Closed
Petitioning District Attorney, Travis County Rosemary Lehmberg and 2 others

Help Stop the Execution of David Powell Scheduled in Texas on June 15, 2010

There will be a demonstration against the execution of David Powell on Monday, June 14, at 5:30 pm at the Texas Capitol in Austin on the sidewalk at 11th and Congress.

In addition to signing the petition below, please call the Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg from 8 am to 5 pm and urge her to ask Governor Perry to issue a 30 day stay of execution and to ask the convicting court judge to withdraw the execution date. 

Rosemary Lehmberg phone number: (512) 854-9400.

David Powell is on death row in Texas for the murder of a police officer, Ralph Ablanedo, committed 32 years ago in the state capital, Austin. Twenty-seven years old at the time of the crime, David Powell is now 59. More than 70 countries have legislated to abolish the death penalty since David Powell was first sent to death row. 

The Travis County District Attorney, Rosemary Lehmberg, has requested that the trial court set an execution date for David Lee Powell, and the court has now set David’s execution for June 15, 2010. DA Lehmberg has the authority to ask the court to withdraw the warrant, but she will not do so without the public letting her know LOUD AND CLEAR that she has done the wrong thing. Tell her your disappointment that she is missing an opportunity to take the most progressive county in Texas, Travis County, into the future by withdrawing David’s execution date. She knows that there are appropriate alternatives to the death penalty. Let her know you do too. And tell her – if you are a voter in Austin and Travis County, that you will never vote for her again if she goes through with this terrible deed.

David Powell has already served 32 years and during this time he has done good things, compassionate things, such as helping numerous illiterate inmates learn to read and write. He has served a life sentence. Now on top of this life sentence the State of Texas intends to carry out a death sentence too. 

David was sentenced to death because prosecutors convinced the jury that he would pose a future danger to society, but he has had only minor non-violent infractions in the 32 years he has been on death row, such as having an extra pair of socks and shorts in his cell; playing his radio too loudly; or not making his bed before 6am. 

To learn more about the case of David Powell, visit or watch a 29 minute documentary, divided into four parts on YouTube: Part onePart twoPart threePart four.

David has expressed remorse for his actions in 1978. Because of the sincerity of his remorse and the compassionate life he has led while on death row, David deserves to have his sentence commuted from death. 

Read an article in the Austin American-Statesman about the letter David Powell wrote on December 31, 2009 apologizing to the family of Ralph Ablanedo, the officer he killed in 1978.

You can sign your name and send the letter as it is written, you can edit the letter to add or change some of the words, or you can delete all the current text and write a letter in your own words.

Anyone can sign the petition and send the email, but if you live in Austin or Travis County, you can add a line to the text of the email saying you live in Austin or Travis County.

Letter to
District Attorney, Travis County Rosemary Lehmberg
CC: Texas Moratorium Network
Office of the Travis County District Attorney
I'm writing you in response to the execution date which you asked the trial court to set for David Lee Powell. I am extremely disappointed because this is a time when the death penalty is beginning to fall into disrepute, and Mr. Powell's case provides a significant opportunity to make a statement about the enormous waste, human and monetary, associated with the death penalty. You could have used this moment to lead society away from the death penalty but instead you acquiesced to the conventional wisdom of Texas' death penalty politics. In a world that is increasingly turning away from the death penalty, Texas is out of step. I believe you know this, and as the District Attorney of the most progressive county in Texas, you can help take us in a different direction.

I am writing to urge you to reverse your course. You have the authority to ask the court to withdraw the death warrant and to use that act as an opportunity to lead the State of Texas into a more just and peaceful future. Other leaders like you have chosen to lead the public away from the death penalty, where they once believed in it, because they understand it to be wrong on so many levels. I believe you are that kind of leader.

It has been said that the penalty of knowing one's evil deed is punishment enough. David Powell knows his evil deed, has shown true remorse for it, and has suffered immensely. He has led an exemplary life since his conviction, even from the despair of Death Row. He no longer deserves the death penalty. I have reason to believe you feel the same way. I beg you to ask the court to withdraw the execution date and use this as an opportunity to move us in a different direction.

I pray that you will take the extraordinary step of asking the trial court to withdraw the death warrant, and let David live. After serving 32 years on death row, taking him to execution is not befitting of a civilized society. I know the political risk of what I am asking you to do. But how many times do any of us have an opportunity to seize the moment, and lead people into a more just and peaceful world? You, Ms Lehmberg, have that opportunity right now. It may make you unpopular with some factions, it may make your next political race more difficult in some ways, but you will have the passionate support of the many people who can see the true courage it would take for you to take this extraordinary measure.

Let the public know that when the death penalty no longer serves any legitimate public interest, as in the case of David Powell, you will not embrace it.

Years from now, when 2010 is a distant memory, you can be the profile in courage whose memory Austin will honor. If you let David live, you will be the DA our grandchildren read about in history books. If you let David live, years from now a child will come home from school in Austin and her parents will ask what did you learn today. And the child will say, "today we learned about Rosemary Lehmberg".