This Wednesday, Raphael Holiday will be executed minutes after 6pm at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, Texas. Unlike many of those I’ve encountered on death row, I believe that Holiday deserves to die.
In early 2000, Raphael was partnered with Tami Wilkerson. Together, they lived in a secluded log cabin in Madison County with their infant daughter Justice and Tami’s young daughters, five-year-old Jasmine and seven-year-old Tierra. In March, Tami discovered that Raphael had sexually assaulted Tierra and filed charges against him. Raphael was forced to move out. Despite the protective order, Tami let Raphael occasionally see his daughter. In August, Raphael started to assault and terrorize Tami incessantly. When she cut off all communication, things got worse.
Late in the night of September 5, 2000, Tami saw a figure coming through the woods. By the time family arrived to help, Raphael was in the house. Tami’s aunt Beverly Mitchell rushed the oldest girls to the car. Though her uncle Terry Keller had a gun, Raphael choked Tami and made him hand it over. Raphael was unsuccessful in his attempts to burn the car with the girls in it. In the midst of it all, Tami rushed to a neighbor’s home for help. By the time she returned to the log cabin, the structure was engulfed in flames and all three children were trapped inside.
There once was an execution scheduled. The authorities threw a woman that committed a capital offense at the feet of Jesus. As they raised their stones to kill her, Jesus got down in the dirt to join her in her fate. Looking up, Jesus declared, “Whoever is without sin can cast the first stone!”
Over the next two days, I will pilgrimage over 40 miles carrying the cross between Death Row/Polunsky Unit (noon on 11/17) in Livingston and the Execution Chamber/Walls Unit in Huntsville (time of execution on 11/18) not because I believe that Raphael Holiday is innocent…but rather because I know he’s not. Jesus taught us to “love our neighbors as ourselves” and Holiday has already shown us that there is no love in killing. May we show Holiday the mercy that he didn’t show his victims. Throughout my journey, I will pray that we will stop emulating the killers we claim we are punishing and stop this foolishness of executions once and for all.