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CNN Presents

Scheduled to Die

Aired May 25, 2002 - 20:00   ET



NAPOLEON BEAZLEY: I was 18 when I was incarcerated--

JACK SKEEN, PROSECUTOR: Beazley hollered, "Shoot the bitch!"

BEAZLEY: --18 when I was tried--

BOBBIE LUTTIG, JOHN LUTTIG'S WIDOW: I was wondering, you know, how it would feel to die.

BEAZLEY: --18 when I got to death row.

LARRY FITZGERALD, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: At 6:00, he'll be removed from the cell and brought in here to be surrounded by five correction officers.

IRELAND BEAZLEY, NAPOLEON BEAZLEY'S FATHER: It ain't going to help fill no hole in nobody's heart for Napoleon to be killed. All it's going to do is create some more holes in our hearts, you know.

FITZGERALD: We're often referred to as the execution capital of the country.

PROTESTERS: Moratorium now!

FITZGERALD: Nobody ever mentions the victims.

WALTER LONG, ATTORNEY: Society should not dispose of its children in the way that it has in his case.


AARON BROWN, HOST: Welcome to CNN PRESENTS. I'm Aaron Brown.

The United States is one of the very few remaining Western countries that still imposes the death penalty. While most of America's allies don't understand why the United States executes people, the death penalty is still supported by a large majority of Americans.

But even so, there is still controversy about whether capital punishment is fairly applied here. Two states, Illinois and Maryland, have called a halt to all executions until they can be sure that where the ultimate punishment is concerned, issues like racial bias and legal fairness have been properly thought out and addressed.

But those two states are the exceptions. Executions continue in 36 other states, including Texas, home to one of the busiest death houses in the country.

Last August, CNN went to Texas as the state prepared for another execution, the execution of Napoleon Beazley, a convicted killer, guilty by his own admission, sentenced to die, although he was a minor when he committed his crime, a crime that set in motion a series of events that impacted not just one life but hundreds of lives and livelihoods in what is the machinery of capital punishment.

And so now, "Scheduled to Die," with CNN's Christiane Amanpour.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Huntsville, Texas, is a prosperous city of 35,000 people. It's a quiet town in the plains of eastern Texas. Nonetheless, it has attracted worldwide attention, because Huntsville is home to the Texas death chamber, which has executed more people in the past 20 years than any other in the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, these are items that are illegally made inside the prison.

AMANPOUR: And it even has a prison museum on the historic town square.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These are death row commemorative hats. These hats are probably our -- one of our better sellers, that, along with some of the inmate-made crafts that we sell here.

We have some inmate-made koozies (ph), inmate-made checkbook wallet cover.

One of our more popular items that we sell here are the inmate- made key chains.


AMANPOUR: But the biggest attraction is in the back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll go see the Old Sparky exhibit.

From 1924 to 1964, 361 condemned inmates have sat inside this chair. Well, the inmate was strapped down inside the chair, and they would send 2,000 volts of alternating current through the inmate's body, and then they would reduce the voltage to 200 volts, because the inmate would catch on fire.

AMANPOUR: Down the road from the museum is the Texas State Prison Walls (ph) Unit, the death house. This morning's work detail is grooming the grounds, preparing the prison for another inmate's death.

Napoleon Beazley is that inmate. He committed a murder at age 17, and he's now on the brink of the ultimate punishment, death by lethal injection.

(on camera): I'm struck by some of the beautiful gardens you have around here. Is that sort of done deliberately?

LARRY FITZGERALD, PUBLIC INFORMATION OFFICER, TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: No. All of our units, wherever they are in the state, are landscaped, and we take real pride in the way the units look.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Larry Fitzgerald takes pride in much of what this facility does. He is the public information officer for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. And with the Beazley execution just 30 hours away, he walks us through.

(on camera): We're now in what you guys call the death house.

FITZGERALD: This is the death house.

AMANPOUR: So what are these tables for? They almost look, I'm sorry to say, like picnic tables. They've got napkins on them.

FITZGERALD: We bring back here snack food, finger food, just back here during the day of the execution. There's only...

AMANPOUR: Who wants snack food?

FITZGERALD: Well, the inmate, the inmate can eat it. We have coffee, tea, punch, that type of thing, and for the inmate, if the inmate wants it. It's for the officers who are back here if they want it. It's just, you know, kind of a party tray type thing, it just (UNINTELLIGIBLE)...

AMANPOUR: A party tray.

FITZGERALD: That's a bad word to use. But it's similar to stuff that you would find, you know, for -- deviled eggs, that type of thing.


JIM BRAZEL (ph), PRISON CHAPLAIN: Generally speaking, the offenders have not had deviled eggs for a long time, and they really do enjoy the deviled eggs.


(voice-over): Prison chaplain Jim Brazel's job is to give spiritual support to inmates on the last day of their lives.

(on camera): Well, how do you bond with him in those final hours? I mean, why -- how should he feel comfortable with somebody he may not have seen before?

BRAZEL: Well, that's a good question. What I usually do, like this afternoon, I will go over and I will visit with him. I always tell them I'm going to let them see my ugly face before he comes over here. I try to get to know him a little bit, I try to get to know his personality, what he's feeling.

Because coming over here is quite traumatic.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Brazel has seen more than 150 people put to death, while Fitzgerald says he's witnessed at least 180 executions.

(on camera): So we're entering now...

FITZGERALD: This is the death chamber.

AMANPOUR: Oh, it's shocking to see to me, for the first time.

(voice-over): They explain what has now become a routine with a studied air of normalcy.

FITZGERALD: At 6:00 he'll be removed from the cell, be brought in here. He'll get up on the gurney. And once he's on the gurney, five officers are each assigned a position around this gurney.

AMANPOUR: And those five people are what you call the tie-down people.

FITZGERALD: Tie-down team. And they will strap his arms down, they'll strap his ankles down, and then they'll put the restraints across the rest of his body.

The IV team will come in. They'll insert two IVs, one in his left arm, one in his right arm. The warden will then give the signal, and the chemicals will start flowing.

AMANPOUR: Does he talk to you when the IV's going in?

BRAZEL: Yes, that's -- I make it a point to talk to them real strong during that one time.

I mean, we've had fellows who laid here and told lawyer jokes the whole time somebody was sticking needles in.

AMANPOUR: How long more do you think you'll do this for?

BRAZEL: I don't know. I don't look at it as a job, I look at it as a ministry, and that's the reason I'm here. So, you know, whenever -- as long as the opportunity allows, I'll be here.

AMANPOUR: You don't think that at some point it'll wear on your soul?

BRAZEL: It has, it has taken its toll. Yes, it has.

AMANPOUR: And for you? How do you look at it?

FITZGERALD: I look at it as a service to the people of Texas, I'm actually performing a service.

AMANPOUR: Do you know how cold that will sound to a lot of people?

FITZGERALD: No, I think that it's not meant to sound cold, by any stretch of the imagination. No, I think -- I view my job as really being an extension of what the courts have ordered.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): A hundred and fifty miles away in the state capital, attorney Walter Long is desperately trying to undo the execution of Napoleon Beazley.

STEPHANIE O'CONNOR (ph), ASSISTANT (on phone): We're just running out the door to file something for an execution that we have tomorrow.

AMANPOUR: With the help of his assistant, Stephanie O'Connor, he's filing appeal after appeal, hoping that something will stop the clock, hoping to save Beazley's life.

LONG: It's cutting it close, isn't it?

O'CONNOR: Walter...

LONG: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to go file the state habeas petition in the court of criminal appeals, which is the highest court with criminal jurisdiction in Texas.

Need to file these, Napoleon Beazley's case, he has an execution date tomorrow.

(on phone): This is Walter Long.

AMANPOUR: For Walter Long, this is painfully familiar terrain. He specializes in last-minute death row appeals. In Texas, that usually means lost causes. And yet Long hasn't given up on Beazley because, he says, he has solid grounds for appeal -- namely, that Beazley was 17, a minor, when he committed the crime.

LONG: I still feel a measure of hope for this case. I really do. I think that the issues that we raised at the Supreme Court are very, very strong. And Napoleon thinks I'm crazy.

AMANPOUR: Now Long and Beazley's last hopes lay with the U.S. Supreme Court.

LONG (on phone): A defeat for the death row inmate, Napoleon Beazley.

AMANPOUR: But just this morning, it denied the appeal.

FITZGERALD: "Three justices abstain as high court declines to halt Texas execution."

So that's that.


AMANPOUR: Larry Fitzgerald's next job is to choreograph the media response.



AMANPOUR: Rows of chairs and a sound systems are set up. High- profile cases can attract hundreds of journalists from around the world.

MICHELLE LYONS (ph), REPORTER, HUNTSVILLE ITEM: I do have a Beazley folder.

This has, oh, just information.

AMANPOUR: One of the journalists who has a close eye on the Beazley case is cub reporter Michelle Lyons.

LYONS (on phone): This is Michelle. May I help you?

I am not sitting at my desk right now. Just a second, please.

AMANPOUR: She writes for the local paper, "The Huntsville Item."

LYONS: French journal (ph). I witness executions because it's just part of my job. The way I look at it is just that covering executions is something that goes with covering the prison beat, and as long as I cover the prison beat, I don't really have a big say in the matter.

"Miss Lyons, I've read many articles that you have written... "

I was really frustrated this morning because I have just been getting more e-mails and more ugly letters and phone calls and all sorts of things from people that are telling me I'm a bad person, that I'm cold. Maybe you should try sometimes to get both sides of the story.

AMANPOUR: Lyons is present at all the executions she covers.

LYONS: I actually figured out that the execution of Napoleon Beazley will be my 50th execution.

AMANPOUR: You're how old?

LYONS: I'm 25.

AMANPOUR: So you're 25 years old, and you've seen, by your own count, 50 executions. That must affect you, doesn't it? LYONS: I think if you're a reporter, you're going to cover unpleasant things. You know, I've seen a lot uglier things than watching an execution in which it does appear that you're watching someone go to sleep.

AMANPOUR: This is potentially the last time you'll ever see your son.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Beazley's mother, Rena, knows that her son won't wake up from this sleep.

(on camera): Are you coming back tomorrow?

RENA BEAZLEY: No, ma'am.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): She wants to be at his side to the end, but he's asked her to stay away from his execution.

RENA BEAZLEY: These were his wishes. You know, we'll do what we have to do. I was there in the beginning, I gave birth, he came, you know, he came through my birth canal, he's mine. And I'll be (UNINTELLIGIBLE). You know, he's -- whatever he wants. He chose.

AMANPOUR: Today may be the last time she sees her eldest son alive.




AMANPOUR (voice-over): Breakfast at the Cafe Texan in Huntsville.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You going to eat all that?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's happening?

AMANPOUR: Where many mornings, you're sure to stumble onto a meeting of the Ain't It Awful Club.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His last 11 hits before last night were home runs. Did you read that?

AMANPOUR: A bull session over bacon and grits, with gripes and opinions on just about everything -- everything except the execution coming up that evening just four blocks away from this diner.

(on camera): Is it a topic of discussion here in Huntsville?

JOHN STRICKLAND, OWNER, CAFE TEXAN: Not really. Unless it's in the headlines, you know, we just go on with our lives. We don't know about it.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): This town has averaged an execution every month for the past 20 years. So Napoleon Beazley's has barely made the local headlines, even as the clock ticks towards his death.

Of course, the brutal murder he committed and his conviction seven years ago were major news.


UNIDENTIFIED TV REPORTER: It could have happened to anyone...

UNIDENTIFIED TV REPORTER: Shock and disbelief an understatement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just more than we comprehend that he could be involved in something like this.

JACK SKEEN, PROSECUTOR: He aimed it at John Luttig's head.

BOBBIE LUTTIG, JOHN LUTTIG'S WIDOW (911 call): (UNINTELLIGIBLE), my husband's been shot.

UNIDENTIFIED WITNESS: He said, "I want to see what it's like to kill somebody."

UNIDENTIFIED JURY FOREWOMAN: We the jury find the defendant, Napoleon Beazley, guilty of capital murder.


NAPOLEON BEAZLEY: I was 17 when I was incarcerated, 18 when I was tried, and 18 when I got to death row.

AMANPOUR: Beazley is in many respects the last person you'd expect to meet on death row. He was president of his high school class in Grapeland (ph), Texas. He was runner-up in a school popularity contest, a football star who hoped for a college scholarship. His father, Ireland, was the first black man elected to the city council of Grapeland.

So how did Napoleon Beazley become a murderer? He has no good explanation.

NAPOLEON BEAZLEY: I couldn't blame my mom, I couldn't blame my parents, couldn't blame my friends, I couldn't blame society, I couldn't blame the courts for being here, for being on death row.

I really -- I was old enough to understand what was going on in my life. I was old enough to understand the consequences behind any acts I made.

AMANPOUR: On April 19, 1994, Napoleon Beazley and two of his friends, Donald and Cedric Coleman, decided to steal a car. Armed with guns, the three drove aimlessly until they reached the larger town of Tyler. There they spotted a Mercedes.

SKEEN: Beazley saw the car. He said, "That's the car I want"...

AMANPOUR: Jack Skeen prosecuted the Beazley case.

SKEEN: Beazley had told the other students at the high school, referred to the, "How would it be if I drove a Mercedes in tomorrow?"

AMANPOUR: The Mercedes they went after belonged to John and Bobbie Luttig, who were returning home from Dallas. Beazley and the Coleman brothers followed them. As the Luttigs pulled into their garage, Skeen says, Napoleon Beazley and Donald Coleman ran up the driveway. Beazley grabbed John Luttig as he got out of the car and forced him to the ground.

Then he shot him in the head.

SKEEN: At this point, Mrs. Luttig is trying to get on out of the car. Donald Coleman was on the right side of the car, and Beazley hollered at Donald Coleman, "Shoot the bitch," meaning, Shoot Mrs. Luttig.

AMANPOUR: But Coleman didn't, and so Beazley shot at Mrs. Luttig twice. He missed.

SKEEN: Mrs. Luttig had now crawled on down underneath the vehicle and was basically down trying to act like she was dead, trying not to move, knowing that she was in the process of seeing her husband murdered.

AMANPOUR: Beazley leaned over and shot John Luttig again, this time point-blank. Luttig was killed instantly.

Mrs. Luttig doesn't want to talk about that night, but she did testify at Beazley's trial.


BOBBIE LUTTIG: I was wondering what the bullet would feel like if it went through my back. I was wondering what it would -- how it would feel to die.


AMANPOUR: When Beazley fired his final shot, Mrs. Luttig heard her husband cry out.


BOBBIE LUTTIG: I had never heard a sound like that, never heard the horror that was in it, in his voice.


AMANPOUR: Mrs. Luttig's dramatic testimony helped seal Beazley's fate.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED JURY FOREWOMAN: Under the provision of Texas law...


AMANPOUR: After a three-week trial, the jury convicted him and sentenced him to death.


UNIDENTIFIED JURY FOREWOMAN: ... by means of lethal injection.


AMANPOUR: Steve Aubuchon (ph) was one of the jurors.

STEVE AUBUCHON, BEAZLEY JUROR: There's no doubt in my mind that Napoleon Beazley qualified for the death penalty in this case. Mr. Luttig probably appealed for his life on that concrete floor, but Mr. Beazley did not grant Mr. Luttig an appeal. He went ahead and executed him.

And also believe that we did not sentence him to death, we -- he earned the right to be put to death according to the laws of the state of Texas.

AMANPOUR: The verdict brought the Luttigs a measure of relief.


JUDGE MICHAEL LUTTIG, SON OF VICTIM: I thought this was an appropriate case for the death penalty, and I was pleased that that's the verdict that the jury returned.

BOBBIE LUTTIG: I hope this will send a message loud and clear that we cannot tolerate such crime in our country.


AMANPOUR: The family turned down our request for an interview. But whatever happens to Napoleon Beazley, it's impossible for them to forget John Luttig's death.

AUBUCHON: I don't think any one of us can ever measure the amount of grief, the loss, that they have suffered by losing her husband, their dad.




UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN (on phone): Are you guilty of this, of this crime?

NAPOLEON BEAZLEY: Only reason brought me here was me. I've never tried to exonerate myself.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): As time runs out on Napoleon Beazley, the expected media blitz hits Texas death row.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you looking to be let off?

AMANPOUR: The prison even sets aside time for the press to get Beazley's final thoughts and comments on tape.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So when it's time to make a final statement, will you make one?

NAPOLEON BEAZLEY: I've already spoken.


AMANPOUR: Larry Fitzgerald, the public information officer, is especially busy whenever the international press arrives. This Italian journalist is interviewing inmates for a documentary on death row.


AMANPOUR: And he wants to interview Beazley.

FITZGERALD: What the hell are you doing talking to him?


AMANPOUR: A lot of the international press are up front about the death penalty. They consider it barbaric.


MARAZZITI: Death sentence is a deprivation of human life. Death penalty many way supports a culture of death and says that in the -- under special circumstances, you can kill.

I am not giving judgment on Texas or Europe is better than...

AMANPOUR: Larry Fitzgerald has heard it all before.

FITZGERALD: That's the way the Europeans feel. That's fine. This is Texas.

PROTESTERS: (UNINTELLIGIBLE). Stop the Texas killing machine.

AMANPOUR: Texas has been called the death penalty capital of America. Since 1982, when Texas reinstated capital punishment, the state has executed more than 260 people.


GOV. GEORGE W. BUSH, TEXAS: I took an oath of office to uphold the laws of our state, including the death penalty. (END VIDEO CLIP)

AMANPOUR: The tide of executions sparked worldwide outrage when then Texas Governor George W. Bush ran for president in the year 2000, the same year the state put a record 40 people to death. It's not unusual for inmates like Beazley to get a ton of sympathetic mail from overseas.

NAPOLEON BEAZLEY: I have this one child from -- he's 12, his name's Dell. He's from England. Him and his mom, they write me all the time. And Judy Hammond, she's from Holland.

AMANPOUR: Judy Hammond is more than a pen pal. She considers herself Beazley's soul mate, though she's only ever seen him behind prison glass.

JUDY HAMMOND: This morning, we're going to the Laskey (ph) Unit to see my friend, Napoleon Beazley.

AMANPOUR: Hammond first heard about Beazley from a friend in Holland who was writing another inmate on Texas death row. So Hammond wrote Beazley a letter, and over time her weekly letters and poems led to visits. She's made the trip from Holland to Huntsville five times in the last five years.

HAMMOND: I do not think he deserves to die for what happened.

AMANPOUR: This 35-year-old single mother of two has flown across the Atlantic to visit Beazley one last time.

HAMMOND: If the state says you shall not kill, then they should not kill themselves, because that's what they're doing, they're murdering him.

AMANPOUR: Judy doesn't want to cry in front of Beazley.

HAMMOND: Napoleon's become a part of my life.

AMANPOUR: But approaching death row, she can't stop herself.

HAMMOND: My youngest daughter, Kimmy, she had her birthday on the first of August, and I was here on the first of August. So I had to explain to her beforehand that I would not be here -- there on her birthday, her 6th birthday. And she said, "Hey, Mom, you can see me... " Sorry. "You can see me for many more years. Maybe you can't see Napoleon for that long. So you go, you visit him." That's a 6- year-old telling me that.

AMANPOUR: Beazley was a minor when he committed the murder, and Texas is one of 22 states that allows offenders under the age of 18 to be executed.

Since 1990, Amnesty International has documented only six other countries that have executed juveniles -- Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

But being in that company doesn't trouble victims' rights advocate Diane Clemmons (ph).


DIANE CLEMMONS, VICTIMS' RIGHTS ADVOCATE: It is not cruel and unusual punishment. So there is no constitutional barrier to the execution of Napoleon Beazley. And at 17, he is as deadly as if he were 27 or 37 or 57.


LONG: Ask them if they want it faxed, but tell them it's like...

O'CONNOR: Oh, no, there's no way.

LONG: ... 200 million pages long.

O'CONNOR: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) our fax machine isn't working.

AMANPOUR: Beazley's attorney, Walter Long, sees the death penalty as a basic violation of human rights.

LONG: Society should not dispose of its children in the way that it has in his case. Children are all by nature individuals who are capable of rehabilitation.

O'CONNOR: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), no, Walter, Walter, please.


O'CONNOR: Lay down. You're not going to be able to get anything else done unless you sleep. OK?

LONG: OK, yes.

AMANPOUR: By now, Long hasn't slept in three days.

LONG: I'm going to...

O'CONNOR: Well, you've said that for the past two hours.


I will rest. If you go to the A.G. office, I'll rest.

O'CONNOR: Yeah, right.

LONG: Promise

AMANPOUR: Long has represented more than a dozen clients on death row. He knows the odds are stacked against him.

LONG: I've been through losing a client before. And it's devastating emotionally. It's -- you know, losing anybody you care about is.

AMANPOUR: Long and his partner, David Botsford (ph), are appealing the Beazley death sentence in as many courts as they can, and to the Texas governor.

Though Beazley's guilt is not in question, Long and Botsford hope to reduce his sentence by challenging the conviction based on his age, the all-white jury that convicted him, and questions about the adequacy of his former legal representation.

DAVID BOTSFORD, ATTORNEY: It's ready to rock and roll, now get it out.


(on phone): Is Gerald in?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You read their brief. You would need to know (UNINTELLIGIBLE) was pending in the court of criminal appeals, and you...


AMANPOUR: Beazley's current lawyers are not just fighting time but also the tide of history. In Texas, in the last 10 years, fewer than one in 10 inmates got off death row.

LONG: I'm actually considering taking some time off from doing this kind of work, you know, for the well-being of my family.

AMANPOUR: But for the moment, he still has a life to save. Napoleon Beazley is scheduled to die in less than 24 hours.




AMANPOUR (voice-over): It's 7:00 a.m. on death row in Livingston, Texas. After six years behind these walls, execution day has finally dawned for Napoleon Beazley.

Beazley's father, brother, and best friend arrive for their final visit.

(on camera): So how does a father make his last preparations?

IRELAND BEAZLEY, NAPOLEON BEAZLEY'S FATHER: You got to pray. You have to put your faith and trust in God. But we'll see him Saturday.

AMANPOUR: You'll see him Saturday?

IRELAND BEAZLEY: Yes, we'll see him Saturday.


IRELAND BEAZLEY: I have faith in God.

AMANPOUR: So you think you're coming back on Saturday to see your son.

IRELAND BEAZLEY: I'm hoping and praying that I do.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): The rest of the family is praying too, but apparently not holding out as much hope.

(on camera): What are they giving you?

JAMAL BEAZLEY, NAPOLEON BEAZLEY'S BROTHER: Gave me his stuff. He can't use it. There's no use for it.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Brother Jamal is leaving death row with all Napoleon's worldly goods stuffed into a couple of laundry bags.

JAMAL BEAZLEY: Could you leave me alone, please?

AMANPOUR: At home in Grapeland, the extended family is preparing to go to the death house in Huntsville.

LYONS: Beazley (UNINTELLIGIBLE), good story, good story.

AMANPOUR: At the same time, at the local newspaper in Huntsville, reporter Michelle Lyons is also getting ready to witness yet another execution.

LYONS: You can't lose sight of the fact that, you know, he's not in death row for no reason. You know, he did a horrible crime, and I can't imagine what it would be like to have my father shot, you know, in my driveway while my mother had to play dead just to avoid being killed herself. You know, I can't even imagine what the victim's family's going through.

AMANPOUR: But Michelle Lyons doesn't have much time for reflection. She's a busy general assignment reporter, and the execution is just one of a long list of stories that she's filing today.

LYONS: I have to write about the Boy Scout rally, which will take a few minutes, if I can ever get it started. And I have to write about the Christmas tree then.

(UNINTELLIGIBLE) an execution.

Ooh, it's starting to make clicking sounds when I turn...


AMANPOUR: With six hours to go, Lyons and a colleague pick up lunch across from the death house.

LYONS: I love this place.

AMANPOUR: Where the menu features, yes, the Killer Burger.


AMANPOUR: Huntsville has its own black sense of humor.

Over at death row, public information officer Larry Fitzgerald has just received word of two last-minute appeals filed on Napoleon Beazley's behalf.

FITZGERALD: The nature of the appeal, I don't know, but I do understand they have been filed, and now we just wait to see what the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals does. But we're preparing for the execution.

AMANPOUR: So five hours before he's scheduled to die, Beazley is transported from death row, where he's spent the last six years, to the death house in Huntsville.

FITZGERALD: He was very calm. They put him in his restraints, put him in prison whites, and he nodded to me as (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and he said, "Hi, how are you?" And he very peacefully got in the van and left.

AMANPOUR: But there's no peace back in Austin.

O'CONNOR: I broke it.

AMANPOUR: Where Beazley's attorneys, Walter Long and David Botsford, keep up their fight.


AMANPOUR: Suddenly, a breakthrough. Judge Cynthia Kent, who presided over Beazley's trial, sends a letter to the governor, asking for a reduced sentence of life in prison. Beazley's impending execution compels her to act.

BOTSFORD: Judge Kent faxed me a copy of a letter that she sent to the governor asking him to review the matter and grant the requested commutation of sentence from death to life.

O'CONNOR: Amazing.


(on phone): Walter, hi.

O'CONNOR: Way to go, Judge Kent. Yay!

AMANPOUR: But Botsford and Long aren't convinced the judge's plea will work, and so they're moving forward with the appeals they've already filed.

BOTSFORD: The people that handled the matter before we did in this case didn't do everything that we believe they should have done. Since the court of criminal appeals has granted review on that same type of claim, we believe that there is a better than 50-50 shot that they should do it in this case. Then they'll be meeting beginning about 1:00 today to consider that.

AMANPOUR: Even with these odds, and their strong faith, the Beazley family prepares for the worst.

Midafternoon, Ireland Beazley, accompanied by Napoleon's closest friend, sets out to make funeral arrangements for his son.




O'CONNOR (on phone): Hi, David, hi, David.


Can you fax me the questions? We're in the middle of something. I just can't take the time.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): It's now quarter past 2:00, and Napoleon Beazley is about to die. He'll get the lethal injection at 6:00 this evening. His lawyers are running on fumes.

BOTSFORD: ... just get Laura McElroy (ph) on the phone, and I'll talk to her.

AMANPOUR: But then...

BOTSFORD (on phone): Ex -- beautiful, Elaine.

Walter, Walter...

LONG: Yes.

BOTSFORD: ... Elaine just told me Austin stayed the execution of Colin Wetzel (ph), and so the motion...


BOTSFORD: That's what she said. There...


BOTSFORD (on phone): Betty, this is Dave Botsford. Hi. Did the court stay on Beazley? Thank you, dear. Would you fax us a copy of the stay? Order.

Four-seven-four, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) three-three-seven. Right. Bye.

So the motion is moot in front of her.


O'CONNOR: Walter...

LONG: It's great.



LONG: Time for the call to the family, that's what I'm going to do.

BOTSFORD: No, no, no, no, no, no. No.


BOTSFORD: Call the unit.

LONG: Oh, yes, for sure.


LONG: Yes.

BOTSFORD: Call the unit and talk to (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


BOTSFORD: All right, yes, that's right.

LONG: All right!

O'CONNOR: Trying to find Walls. Is it straight up (UNINTELLIGIBLE), or...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They call it the Huntsville unit.

AMANPOUR: The problem now is figuring out how to reach Beazley at the death house, where he arrived less than an hour ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because he should be able to call out at will today.



BOTSFORD (on phone): Yes, good afternoon, ma'am. My name is David Botsford. I'm an attorney in Austin. I need to speak with the warden or somebody that might be able to get us in contact with our client, Napoleon Beazley, who's scheduled for execution tonight.

LONG: I'm going to go call his family.



LONG: Yes.

(on phone): Who's this? Brenda? Linda?




AMANPOUR: Over at the Beazley house, Napoleon's mother has collapsed.


AMANPOUR: Years of anxiety and pain gone in a single moment.



RENA BEAZLEY: He's not going to die.



RENA BEAZLEY: I knew it, I knew it, I knew it. I knew it, God (UNINTELLIGIBLE).


RENA BEAZLEY: I'll try to tell Daddy right now.

AMANPOUR: While the rest of the family celebrates, Napoleon's father still has no idea that his son has gotten a stay.


MARIA BEAZLEY, NAPOLEON BEAZLEY'S SISTER (on phone): (UNINTELLIGIBLE). This is Maria Beazley. Is my dad there?

AMANPOUR: He's on his way to the funeral home, and Napoleon's sister Maria has to track him down.

MARIA BEAZLEY: He left? Oh, when Daddy gets there, tell him to call us as soon as he gets there. (UNINTELLIGIBLE). We don't need it.

IRELAND BEAZLEY: Oh, I can't get the grin off my face.

AMANPOUR: Finally, Ireland Beazley returns from the funeral home.

IRELAND BEAZLEY: What happened? What happened?

MARIA BEAZLEY: We just know we're not going to no execution tonight.

(CROSSTALK) BEAZLEY FAMILY (singing): Thank you, Lord. Thank you, Lord. I just want to thank you, Lord.

IRELAND BEAZLEY: We pray for Napoleon, dear Heavenly Father. Dear Heavenly Father, we pray for the Luttig family.


IRELAND BEAZLEY: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I say this with all the sincerity in my heart.






AMANPOUR: But for the Luttigs, the nightmare continues. John Luttig's daughter, Suzanne (ph), had planned to witness Beazley's execution. His widow, Bobbie, had planned to stay away.

SKEEN: It is very, very difficult to go through six years of appeals after a extremely traumatic trial, after the loss of your husband, wait six years for appeals, the day arrives for the execution to be carried out, and for it to be stayed.


UNIDENTIFIED TV REPORTER: All the court (UNINTELLIGIBLE) says, you'll get the stay. It didn't offer any opinion on any of those reasons, and said...


AMANPOUR: News of Beazley's stay ricochets around the state.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Beazley just got a stay from the court of criminal appeals.

AMANPOUR: In Huntsville, the news reaches reporter Michelle Lyons.

LYONS: Hey, are you all going to have a press conference now at 3:00 still?

AMANPOUR: Witnessing her 50th execution will now have to wait.

LARRY COLLINS, PRISON OFFICIAL: I'm Larry Collins, the public information officer for the...

AMANPOUR: At a podium normally set up to offer the details of death, a prison official reads a terse statement about a life spared for the time being.

COLLINS: ... Chaplain Jim Brazel informed him of the indefinite stay.

BRAZEL: I went over and I talked to him and told him that the court of criminal appeals had given him a stay, an indefinite stay. And his reactions were very minimal at that point. He didn't have a lot of reactions. He was more or less stunned. But he is more or less on a roller-coaster right now. He said, "I don't know how to feel right now."

AMANPOUR: For all the emotion of the day, the Beazley stay is by no means the final word. The execution is stopped for the time being, but the Beazleys and the Luttigs must now wait for the courts to settle Napoleon Beazley's ultimate fate, and the stay can be lifted any day, any time.





RENA BEAZLEY: I knew it, I knew it, I knew it, I knew it, I knew it, I knew it, I knew it, I knew it.

SKEEN: The only reason Napoleon Beazley was not executed back on August 15 was because the court of criminal appeals in Texas stayed it. And they have lifted that stay on a six-three vote.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): It is now eight months later, eight months since Napoleon Beazley was granted a stay. It's eight years since John Luttig was murdered, and now Beazley's execution is suddenly back on track. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has dismissed Beazley's plea for clemency, which means the trial judge must now set a new execution date.

BOTSFORD: Thank you kindly.


BOTSFORD: Appreciate it.

AMANPOUR: Beazley's attorneys are filing motions to delay that date as long as possible.

BOTSFORD: State's asking for a June execution date.

AMANPOUR: Beazley's parents, Ireland and Rena, are back on the emotional roller-coaster again. Today they have driven from their home in Grapeland to attend the hearing in Tyler, and to see Napoleon. Beazley is brought back to Tyler, where the crime and the trial took place.

Most of the people connected to this case will be in court today.

SKEEN: OK, we'll see you later.

AMANPOUR: Except for the family of the victim, John Luttig.

UNIDENTIFIED COURT OFFICIAL: The State of Texas versus Napoleon Beazley...

AMANPOUR: At the hearing, Beazley's attorneys ask Judge Kent to delay the execution.

BOTSFORD: I would request the court give some time so we don't have to have this be an execution date pushed to the Supreme Court.

AMANPOUR: Prosecutor Jack Skeen is unmoved.

SKEEN: This is not (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at some point, some new (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

AMANPOUR: And to the surprise of almost everyone, Judge Kent agrees. Just eight months ago, she had written to the governor asking for a reduced sentence.

JUDGE CYNTHIA KENT: The court orders that on May 28, 2002, or any time after (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Napoleon Beazley shall be executed by (UNINTELLIGIBLE) injection...

AMANPOUR: With that, Beazley asked to address the court.

NAPOLEON BEAZLEY: I planned to say something to certain people but as I see, first and foremost, with Mrs. Luttig and her family, but as I see they are not in the courtroom today, I am going to say it anyway, and hopefully maybe they will hear it.

Eight years ago, I involved myself in a crime that I instantly regretted. I knew it was wrong, I know it is wrong now. I've been trying to make up for it ever since that moment.

I've apologized ever since that moment, not just through my words but through my acts. I violated the law, I violated this city, and I violated a family, all to satisfy my own misguided emotions. I'm sorry. I wish I had a second chance to make up for it, but I don't. (UNINTELLIGIBLE)

AMANPOUR: And so Napoleon's death sentence is to be carried out in 32 days.

RENA BEAZLEY: The state has determined Napoleon's fate today. But tomorrow, you don't know who's going to determine yours.

IRELAND BEAZLEY: It ain't going to help fill no hole in nobody's heart for Napoleon to be killed. All it's going to do is create some more holes in our hearts, you know.

AMANPOUR: Beazley is headed back to death row, one of more than 400 inmates in Texas who are waiting to die. LONG: I think it's reasonable when there are questions about the appropriateness of the death penalty in a case to wait and look at those issues. The process here in Texas, however, is to rush, rush, rush, rush. The Texas system pushes and pushes and pushes to kill.

SKEEN: As difficult as it is on everyone involved, I think when that day finally comes and that individual is executed, you know, that we can say that the criminal justice itself, system has worked.

AMANPOUR: But as long as the death penalty remains on the books in Texas and across the United States, a fierce debate will continue.


BROWN: Napoleon Beazley is scheduled to die on Tuesday. If the sentence is carried out, he will be the 14th person executed in Huntsville, Texas, this year.

And that's this edition of CNN PRESENTS. I'm Aaron Brown. Thanks for joining us.