[Photo: Delma Banks]

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Parents at an Execution
Recorded in Texarkana, TX.
Premiered March 11, 2003, on All Things Considered.

On March 12th, 2003, Texas is scheduled to execute its 300th inmate since the state reinstated capital punishment in 1982: Delma Banks, Jr., who was convicted of murdering Richard Wayne Whitehead, a 16-year-old high school student.

Banks has been on death row for 22 years, his execution postponed thirteen times. Banks was 21 at the time of the murder and has always professed his innocence. When given the opportunity to plead guilty in exchange for a seven-year sentence, he refused, saying he could not confess to a crime he did not commit. His trial lasted two and a half days. The state's main witness has since recanted his testimony, citing police coercion. Banks's sentence was overturned by the U.S. District Court, then reinstated by a Court of Appeals.

Two weeks before the scheduled execution, the Whitehead and Banks families reflected on the past 22 years and what they might feel after the waiting was over.

Producers: Karen Callahan and Matthew Ozug / Editor: David Miller / Executive Producer: Dave Isay / Production Assistants: Joni Murphy and Ruby Sheets / Funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts. Photograph by Andrew Lichtenstein.


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This piece is available in the following audio formats [4:02 min]:



Photographs of the Whiteheads and Ellean Banks

A message from Delma Banks to his mother [RealPlayer required]

Updates on Banks's case from the Death Penalty Information Center

An essay about Richard Whitehead, written by his parents

Washington Post article about the Banks case

Witness to an Execution, a documentary about the Texas death house

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