death penalty news—-TEXAS

July 22

TEXAS—impending execution stayed

Inmate set to die for '99 murder gets reprieve

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday stopped the scheduled
execution of a condemned inmate after misplaced evidence surfaced related
to the abduction, robbing and fatal shooting of a Dallas man a decade ago.

Roderick Newton, 31, was set to die Thursday. Prosecutors and defense
attorneys had anticipated a reprieve after Dallas County authorities gave
Newton's lawyers a police questionnaire uncovered in a review of the case.
The evidence was given to them within the last 2 weeks.

Newton was condemned for the death of Jesus Montoya, 20, of Dallas, who in
1999 was abducted from a car wash, forced to make an ATM withdrawal,
robbed of his jewelry and then shot and dumped in a vacant lot in

Dallas County prosecutors cleared the way for the reprieve when they
agreed Tuesday with Newton's attorneys that the courts should review the
possible impact of the questionnaire, which was filled out by a key
prosecution witness at Newton's trial but never given to Newton's trial

It was the 1st of 3 statements made to Mesquite detectives by a
co-defendant who testified against Newton. Only 2, however, were known to
Newton's trial attorneys.

The inmate's appeals lawyers, seeking to block the lethal injection, told
the Court of Criminal Appeals it was improperly withheld and could have
been used to discredit the co-defendant's testimony.

Police arrested the co-defendant, Julian Paul Williams, whose fingerprints
were found in Montoya's truck, and Williams told them of Newton's
involvement in Montoya's slaying. He served a 10-year prison term and is
now free. Newton got death.

Prosecutors found the written questionnaire from Williams in a police file
while recently reviewing the 10-year-old case. In the questionnaire,
Williams told police he knew nothing of the slaying and wasn't involved, a
story he changed in subsequent statements.

The appeals court returned Newton's case to his Dallas County trial court
for a hearing on the evidence issue. The appeals court also agreed with
Newton's lawyers that their claim Newton was mentally impaired and
ineligible for execution should be reviewed.

The court dismissed other defense claims that Newton should have had a
hearing on his competency to stand trial and that he had deficient legal
help at his trial.

Newton had more than 2 dozen misdemeanor and felony offenses on his record
and was a probation violator when he became wanted for Montoya's slaying.
He was arrested hiding in a garbage bin after fleeing on foot following a
car chase that had ended with him crashing into a parked car.

Texas leads the nation with 16 executions this year. At least 10 inmates
have execution dates in the coming months. Scheduled to die next is David
Wood, 52, a convicted serial killer facing lethal injection Aug. 20 for
the slayings of 6 women and girls in the El Paso area over 3 months in

(source: Associated Press)