Innocent Man Dies of Cancer on Texas Death Row Three Days Before Hearing to Clear His Name

Max Soffar Spent 35 Years Behind Bars for Crimes He Didn’t Commit

Affiliate: ACLU of Texas
April 25, 2016 4:45 pm

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LIVINGSTON, Tex. – Max Soffar died at the age of 60 yesterday from liver cancer in the prison that houses the state’s death row.

Soffar was sentenced to death in 1981. He was innocent. His death came three days before a hearing at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit that could have set aside his wrongful conviction and death sentence.

“Max was an innocent man who should have been able to die privately and peacefully at home with his wife. Instead he had to endure the horrors of terminal cancer under guards’ constant watch, a prisoner until his final breath,” said Brian Stull, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project. “Max was 24 when he succumbed to extreme pressure by police and confessed to crimes he didn’t commit. That confession should never have held up in court, yet it sent Max to death row, where he spent the rest of his life. That is a disgrace.”

Max was represented by the ACLU and the law firm Kirkland Ellis in efforts to overturn his death sentence.

“Max’s punishment for something he didn’t do shows the inherent injustice in the death penalty. Death should never be the outcome of our highly imperfect court system,” said Andrew Horne of Kirkland Ellis. “Max’s case also shows how resistant our courts are to correcting their mistakes, particularly errors in capital punishment. After decades of effort, and despite powerful evidence of innocence, we have not yet cleared Max’s name.”

“Max wasn’t executed, but the death penalty and its haphazard, unjust application stole his life. He was 60 years old when he died on death row, innocent,” said Stull. “The state of Texas was ready to kill him over nothing. He lived with that every day.”

For legal documents and other information about Max’s case, visit:

For more information about the ACLU’s Capital Punishment Project, visit:

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