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Canadian Faces Texas Execution

Amid international protests, a Canadian man scheduled for execution in a Texas murder lost his bid for clemency Wednesday.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 17-0, with one abstention, to deny Joseph Stanley Faulder's petition for a 90-day reprieve and to reject commutation of his death sentence to a lesser penalty.

After the vote, Gov. George W. Bush said he would handle Faulder's case the same as any other, despite a Canadian outcry and an appeal from U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

"My job is to enforce the laws of the state of Texas," Bush said.

"We're a death penalty state. We believe in swift and sure punishment. When I swore in, I swore to uphold the laws in this state, and I intend to do so," the Republican governor said.

Faulder, 61, was convicted of the 1975 murder of Inez Phillips of Gladewater, matriarch of a wealthy Texas oil family. If executed as scheduled Thursday evening, he would become the first Canadian put to death in the United States since 1952.

The parole board vote left Bush only one option besides allowing the execution to proceed. He could issue a one-time 30-day reprieve. Under Texas law, a governor cannot commute a death sentence unless the parole board recommends that to him.

Before deciding on a reprieve, Bush said he will wait for the courts to complete action and then ask the same two questions he does in every death penalty case: Is there any question about Faulder's guilt? Did he have full access to the courts?

Bush said three state and federal judges were considering issues in the case and could halt the execution if they need more time.

"In the case of Mr. Faulder, I have seen no new evidence that questions the jury's verdict that he's guilty of this crime. In fact, his request for commutation was not based on any claim of innocence," Bush said.

"All the other issues ... are legal issues regarding Mr. Faulder's rights. Those issues properly belong in the courts. They have been reviewed by the courts, and they are currently being reviewed by our courts."

Faulder's case has attracted international attention because he says his nationality was ignored when he was arrested in violation of international treaties.

Texas authorities said he was carrying a Colorado driver's license, had applied for a Texas license, and didn't disclose he was Canadian until after his conviction.

Last month, Ms. Albright asked Bush to delay the execution because of the possibility Texas violated the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations by not informing Faulder he could contact Canadian officials after his arrest. She raised a similar argument in unsuccessfully trying to stop Virginia's execution of a Paraguayan man earlier this year.

Bush said he has spoken with Canada's ambassador to the United States about the case.

"We had a very frank discussion. He made the Canadian governent's case very clear to me, and I appreciated his phone call," Bush said.

A group of Canadians, including members of the Toronto-based Association in Defense of the Wrongly Convicted, is in Austin appealing for Faulder. They had a stormy meeting with parole board Chairman Victor Rodriguez on Wednesday and earlier met with Bush's lawyer.

"We're sickened to our stomachs by the process," said Sid Ryan, president of a Canadian public employees' union. "All of Canada is outraged by what's happening down here."

Another Canadian, the Rev. Susan Eagle, said she hopes Bush will issue a 30-day reprieve. "The other thing that's going to help is the growing momentum of public opinion that says you don't execute a man unless you're absolutely sure you have gone through the proper process," she said.

The parole board's Rodriguez said neither the Canadian outcry nor other attention increased pressure in what's already the toughest decision the 18 parole board members must make.

"How much more pressure could there be with the kind of cases we look at? These are the ultimate cases we must decide," Rodriguez said.

At a news conference that included several Canadian reporters, Bush was asked what the Faulder case says to Canadians.

"I can say a couple of things," Bush replied. "If you're a Canadian and come to our state, don't murder anybody. And secondly, we give people due process of law. ... I can assure the Canadians that this man will be afforded all the due process of our court system."

Written by Michael Holmes
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