Stop the Execution of Stephen Barbee in Texas

Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles & Governor Greg Abbott

The execution of Stephen Barbee scheduled for October 12, 2021 for the 2005 murders of Lisa Underwood, her unborn child and her son Jayden has been STAYED pending resolution of the Ramirez case. This issue challenges Texas' refusal to allow a prisoner to have his or her pastor in the death chamber with them, praying audibly, possibly touching the prisoner.

Please continue to sign this petition. This issue only delays this execution.

[See operative petition language below.]

BACKGROUND. (From the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty)

Stephen Barbee was convicted and sentenced to death in Tarrant County for killing Lisa and Jayden Underwood in 2005. He faced execution two years ago but was granted a stay by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McCoy v. Louisiana (2018). In that opinion, the Justices ruled that “a defendant has the right to insist that counsel refrain from admitting guilt, even when counsel’s experience-based view is that confessing guilt offers the defendant the best chance to avoid the death penalty.” During his trial, Barbee’s lawyers unexpectedly and impermissibly conceded his guilt to the jury despite Barbee’s insistence on his innocence.

Barbee has filed a federal complaint relating to his request for his spiritual advisor to pray aloud with him in the execution chamber. His attorney has asked for a stay of execution based on an identical claim raised by John Ramirez, for whom the U.S. Supreme Court recently granted a stay. The Justices will hear oral argument in the Ramirez case on November 1, 2021.

Barbee also has filed an application for clemency with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles asking for a recommendation of the commutation of his sentence to a lesser penalty or at least a 120-day reprieve so that the Board may fully investigate and consider the facts of his case, including the questions surrounding the reliability of his conviction and fairness of his trial.



Texas' aggressive execution schedule marks it as an outlier in its use of the death penalty while the majority of other states are on a downward trend of executions. In 2019, Texas accounted for 9 of the nation's 22 state executions, and in 2020 Texas was just one of two states that carried out an execution during the COVID pandemic.

Please sign the petition asking Governor Abbott and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to do everything within their power to stop this execution, including issuing a stay, and seeking a path to clemency in the case.

Petitions will be delivered on your behalf at 12:00 noon Central Time on October 8th.

Additionally, you may reach out now to the Board at bpp_clemency@tdcj.texas.gov and the Governor at https://gov.texas.gov/contact/ and (512) 463-1782. You can simply leave a voice message, or choose to speak to a representative if you prefer.

Please note: In Texas, the Governor does have limited power when it comes to the death penalty. But the story we are told that "it's out of the governor's hands," is only true if we allow it to be. Yes, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles must recommend clemency in that state in order for the Governor to grant clemency (mercy) by commuting a death sentence. But the fact is that the governor appoints the members of the Board of Pardons and Paroles. He can choose to appoint members who will take valid claims and concerns more seriously, instead of acting like rubber-stamping gate-keepers. He can still use his position of power and influence to enact justice in the State of Texas.  

Sponsored by

To: Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles & Governor Greg Abbott
From: [Your Name]

We are writing to ask that you to stop the [date will be added once a new date is set] execution of Stephen Barbee for the 2005 murders of Lisa Underwood, her unborn child and her son Jayden.

We are concerned that while the vast majority of states with capital punishment continue on a downward trend of executions, Texas has continued to go against trend by carrying on an aggressive execution schedule, even during the global COVID pandemic.

We, the undersigned, ask that you do everything within your power to stop this execution, including issuing a stay, and seeking a path to clemency in the case.

Thank you for time and attention to this urgent and serious matter.