death penalty news—-TEXAS

Oct. 14


Prosecutor in one of Dallas County's DNA exonerations no longer supports
death penalty

James A. Fry, who prosecuted Dallas County exoneree Charles Chatman, said
he is "shaken to the core" because of the number of exonerations
throughout the country and problems with eye witness testimony.

Once a staunch supporter of capital punishment, Mr. Fry said no longer
supports it because of the problems in the criminal justice system
highlighted by the exonerations.

"I don't think the system can prove who is guilty and who is innocent," he
said in an interview at his office in Sherman where he practices family

Mr. Fry prosecuted Mr. Chatman in 1981 for the rape of the exonerated
man's former neighbor. Mr. Fry said that at the time, he believed the
victim had correctly picked out Mr. Chatman from a photo lineup.

This week, The Dallas Morning News is running stories from its 8-month
examination of the county's 19 DNA exonerations that show that eyewitness
testimony can be flawed.

Dallas County has had more DNA exonerations than any other local
jurisdiction since 2001 when the state began allowing post-conviction DNA
testing. Unlike most other counties, Dallas County has preserved decades
of evidence.

(source: Dallas Morning News)


Texas death row inmate loses at Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to review the case of a
convicted killer condemned for the slaying of 1 of 2 men killed during a
robbery at a Houston apartment complex 18 years ago.

The rejection by the high court moves Rodney Charles Rachal a step closer
to lethal injection. He does not have an execution date.

Rachal was a 20-year-old father of 8 children in 1990 when he was arrested
for the fatal shooting of Charles Washington, 17. Another man, Terrance
Davis, 18, also was gunned down. 2 others were wounded in the gunfire.

Rachal gave a confession to police after he was arrested about 2 weeks
after the shootings. The 9th-grade dropout is a native of Natchitoches
Parish, La.

In his appeal, Rachal, 38, argued that his trial judge violated his
constitutional rights by appointing only 1 lawyer for his defense. In a
ruling denying his appeal in February, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals said there is no constitutional guarantee to a 2nd lawyer in a
capital case.

Rachal also challenged evidence at the punishment phase of his 1992 trial
that showed he had killed another man during an armed robbery months
before the apartment complex shootings. A grand jury in that case refused
to indict Rachal, but prosecutors used the earlier shooting to bolster
their arguments that he would be a future danger, which is one of the
elements jurors consider when deciding a death sentence.

Court records show the apartment shootings were the climax of a plan
involving Rachal, two other men and 2 women to rob people so they could
get drug money.

One of the men, Tommy Ray German, received 55 years in prison for his
involvement, then picked up another 10 years for escape. The other, Howard
Ray Gipson, is serving a 30-year term for 3 counts of aggravated robbery.

(source: Houston Chronicle)