death penalty news—–TEXAS

September 3


Defendant freed, 9 months after conviction and death sentence were

Michael Toney was released from the Tarrant County Jail on Wednesday
night, 9 months after his conviction and death sentence for the 1985
bombing deaths of 3 people in a Lake Worth trailer were overturned.

District Attorney Joe Shannon said he learned Wednesday that the Texas
attorney general filed a motion to dismiss the case against Toney without

That means prosecutors could still decide to retry the case after further
investigation, he said.

The attorney general took over the case after the Tarrant County district
attorneys office recused itself in January because evidence favorable to
Toneys defense was withheld during his 1999 trial.

A spokeswoman for the law firm OMelveny & Myers L.L.P. in San Francisco,
which represents Toney, said in a statement, "Our client Michael Roy Toney
is grateful that the attorney generals office is taking the appropriate
step of pausing to conduct an independent investigation that will take a
closer look at the evidence in this case."

Susan Blount, whose husband and daughter were killed in the bombing, said
the attorney general's office informed her of the decision Wednesday.

"They wanted to let me know so I wouldn't be surprised," she said. "They
have indicated that it is still their intent to retry the case, but they
needed more time to go over all the information and evidence."

A spokesman for the attorney generals office did not return a phone
message late Wednesday.

Toney was released about 9 p.m. on $25,000 bail for a case unrelated to
the bombing, a jail official said.

At 9:21 p.m., a supporter of Toney sent out an e-mail with the subject
line "Great news."

The e-mail said: "The case against Michael has been dismissed by the
prosecutors. He has left the jail and is on his way to have dinner with
his attorneys."

Toney was convicted of planting a briefcase bomb outside a Lake Worth
trailer, killing Angela Blount, 15; her father, Joe Blount, 44; and her
cousin Michael Columbus, 18.

Toney has always maintained his innocence. No physical evidence connected
him to the crime.

In December, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Toney's
conviction after the district attorney's office acknowledged that evidence
was withheld.

Prosecutors withheld at least 14 documents that cast doubt on the accounts
of crucial witnesses against Toney, namely his ex-wife and his former best

Toney told the Star-Telegram in a December prison interview that he
believed that the prosecutors were more concerned with closing the case
than finding the truth.

"They had blinders on," he said. "Once they thought they could convict
someone, innocence didn't matter."

The lead prosecutor in the 1999 trial, Mike Parrish, left the district
attorney's office last year. He has told the Star-Telegram that he cannot
comment on pending cases.

(source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram)


Former Texas death row inmate Toney freed

A former condemned inmate whose conviction in the 1985 bombing deaths of 3
people was overturned in December has been released.

Michael Roy Toney was freed Wednesday night from the Tarrant County Jail
on $25,000 bail. District Attorney Joe Shannon told the Fort Worth
Star-Telegram he learned Wednesday that the Texas attorney general's
office filed a motion to dismiss the case without prejudice. Prosecutors
could still retry the case.

The district attorney's office in January recused itself because evidence,
favorable to the defense, was withheld during Toney's 1999 trial.

The bombing at a Lake Worth trailer killed 15-year-old Angela Blount, her
44-year-old father Joe Blount and her 18-year-old cousin Michael Columbus.

Shannon in May was appointed, by Gov. Rick Perry, as interim district
attorney after DA Tim Curry died of cancer.

(source: Associated Press)


British citizen on death row in Texas launches 'last chance' appeal

Lawyers for Linda Carty, a British citizen on death row in Texas, will on
Thursday make what they called a "last chance" appeal against her

Carty, 51, a grandmother from the Caribbean island of St Kitts, was
sentenced to death for the murder in 2001 of a young mother whose baby she
was allegedly trying to steal after what her British legal team describes
as a "catastrophically flawed" trial.

However, they said judges have refused to hear new evidence that the
conviction was unsafe and that Carty is innocent.

If her lawyers fail to to persuade judges in New Orleans's Fifth Circuit
Court of Appeals, all that stands between Carty and death by lethal
injection is the US Supreme Court, which only hears a small number of
cases every year.

Carty has been represented by lawyers by the charity Reprieve since it
emerged that she was born to Anguillan parents and so holds a British
Overseas Territory passport.

She claims that she was framed for the killing of Joana Rodriguez by the 3
men who broke into the victim's home demanding drugs and money.

After beating up her boyfriend, they kidnapped Miss Rodriguez and her
4-day-old son, who was later found unharmed.

But the mother suffocated after being bound up and locked in a car boot
with a plastic bag tied over her head.

Carty alleges that the men falsely claimed she had recruited them to help
her get hold of the baby after she suffered a string of miscarriages.

She says they were former drugs traffickers who wanted revenge on her for
her work as a secret informant for the US Drug Enforcement Administration.

Her lawyers claim she was forced to rely on a court-appointed lawyer whose
incompetence had already led to 20 clients end up on death row more than
any other US defence lawyer.

Among the charges levelled against him were that he failed to spot obvious
inconsistencies in the prosecution case, did not meet his client until
immediately before the trial and failed to interview important witnesses.

Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve's director, said the US court system's
refusal to hear most of their arguments "makes no sense".

He said: "Linda's legal representation at trial was appalling and she
would not be on death row on Thursday if she had received an adequate

"The rules that courts use to deny justice in capital cases are simply
bizarre – only last week Justice Scalia reiterated that someone who is
innocent can be executed so long as she had a 'fair' trial."

He said Carty was "dangerously close to the execution chamber" and that
the British Government needed to everything in its power to save her life.

The Foreign Office confirmed it had made representations to the US
authorities that it was opposed to the death penalty.

It has also offered consular assistance to Carty and her family.

Carty is one of 10 women on death row in Texas, which executes far more
convicted criminals than any other state.

Last week, the state's execution in 2004 of a man convicted of murdering
his 3 young children by arson was undermined after fire experts said the
trial's forensic evidence was deeply flawed.

(source: The Telegraph)


Execution a waste of tax dollars

Re: "Was Innocent Man Executed? State must confront disturbing facts in
arson case," Monday Editorials.

As a victim's advocate, I spent years in favor of the death penalty. I now
want the state of Texas to abolish it. A moratorium is not enough.

The Cameron Todd Willingham case illustrates the trouble Texans have.
Clear evidence was given to both the Board of Pardons and Paroles and to
Gov. Rick Perry's office. But review of this evidence is not a due-process
right, just a privilege without accountability or judicial oversight.
Compelling evidence of innocence is not sufficient to obtain a clemency

It takes 3 times the money to execute as to incarcerate for 40 years.
Surely the state of Texas can use our tax dollars to better represent our

Don't use my tax dollars to execute, since Texas isn't compelled to use my
tax dollars to ensure justice.

Kate Bell, Aubrey

(source: Letter to the Editor, Dallas Morning News)


Retrial gets man life instead of death penalty for murder of baby

A man convicted of murdering his infant daughter more than 4 years ago now
knows how he will pay for the crime.

Thursday 25-year-old Jerry Crisp was sentenced to life in prison for the
murder of 10-week-old Jayden Crisp.

Crisps first trial ended with a hung jury back in April 2008.

Prosecutors sought the death penalty back then.

Crisp has maintained his innocence, saying his daughter meant the world to
him. He told authorities Jayden fell from a table while he was changing
her diaper. But, the medical examiner told jurors she found nearly 38
bruises on the baby's body.

(source: KENS News)


Missouri man pleads guilty to killing 3 in Texas

A Missouri man pleaded guilty Thursday to capital murder for killing a
pregnant woman, her husband and son at a Texas Panhandle farmhouse in

Levi King, 26, entered his plea in Lubbock and then prosecutors began the
punishment phase. The state is seeking the death penalty.

King pleaded guilty to killing Michell Conrad, 35, her husband Brian
Conrad, 31, and her 14-year-old son, Zach Doan. They were found slain in
their remote farmhouse. Michell Conrad was six months pregnant.

Her 10-year-old daughter survived and called 911.

Texas law enforcement officials did not released the 911 tape, any details
about how the girl survived or what she might have seen. It was not clear
whether she would testify. Authorities have never released a motive for
the slayings. Earlier this year, the judge in the case issued a gag order.

King pleaded guilty last year in the shooting deaths of Orlie McCool, 70,
and his 47-year-old daughter-in-law, Dawn McCool. Their bodies were found
by a relative in a rural Pineville, Mo., home on Sept. 30, 2005 the same
day authorities in the Texas Panhandle discovered the bodies in the
Conrads' home.

Missouri authorities said King drove Orlie McCool's pickup truck from
Missouri to the Conrads' home in Texas.

King was caught the same night trying to re-enter the U.S. at the Mexican
border in El Paso, Texas.

Shortly after investigators brought the truck back to Missouri from El
Paso, a name tag with Brian Conrad's name was found in the vehicle.

Investigators said ballistics tests linked 1 of 4 guns found in the truck
to the Texas killings.

King was sentenced to 2 consecutive life terms without parole for the
Missouri killings. The Texas punishment would take precedence under an
agreement with Missouri.

(source: Associated Press)