Terri Been’s voice shook as she read a long text message from her niece.
“I had a nightmare about my dad last night,” Paige Rowan told her aunt in the text.
Rowan described a dream in which she watched helplessly as the execution needle pierced her father’s skin.
She woke up screaming, panicking and feeling hopeless, she told Been.
Then, she said, she dropped to her knees and prayed. “Please don’t allow this to happen,” Rowan wrote. “Don’t take my father away.”
Been struggled to finish reading the text message, her voice breaking as she paused several times to regain her composure during an interview with The Washington Post.
The message was sent Sunday, Been said, less than three weeks ahead of the date her niece has come to dread: Aug. 24, when the Texas Department of Criminal Justice plans to inject Jeffrey Lee Wood with a lethal dose of pentobarbital to stop his heart.
Rowan’s nightmares have been happening more often as her father’s execution date looms closer.
The letter was sent not long after relatives and supporters of Wood gathered outside the Governor’s Mansion in Austin and called on Abbott to call off Wood’s execution and commute his sentence.
Some wore T-shirts that said “Punish action. Not affiliation,” the Texas Tribune reported.
In 2007, then-Gov. Rick Perry granted clemency to Kenneth Foster Jr., who, like Wood, was convicted and sentenced to death under the law of parties.
Wood’s legal team recently submitted his petition for clemency to the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles. An online petition supporting Wood has garnered nearly 2,500 signatures.
He turns 42 on Aug. 19, a few days before his scheduled execution.
Been, a science department chair at a middle school in Dilley, Texas, said her brother has always believed he will be spared.
She’s not as optimistic.
Been already said goodbye to her brother once, in 2008; his initial execution date was postponed because of issues with his competence.
Panic sets in every time she thinks about doing it all over again.
“I don’t have much time left,” she said.