death penalty news—-TEXAS

Sept. 16


Death row inmate denied retrial despite judge-prosecutor affair

A death row inmate in Texas does not deserve a new trial even though the
judge in his case was having an affair with the prosecutor, a state
appeals court ruled Wednesday.

Charles Dean Hood was granted a last-minute reprieve in June 2008 when a
former district attorney came forward to confirm long-rumored reports of
the affair. The judge and prosecutor later admitted to the secret affair
under oath.

In a 6-3 opinion, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Hood's
request on the basis that his defense team did not raise the issue in
their initial appeal despite the fact that they were aware of the rumors.

"Accordingly, the application is dismissed as an abuse of the writ," the
court ruled.

Hood's defense team called the decision an "outrage" and vowed to appeal.

"This decision by a court where 8 of the 9 judges once shared the bench
with Judge (Verla Sue) Holland will only add to the perception that
justice is skewed in Texas, that obvious and outrageous violations of the
Constitution are acceptable in death penalty cases," said Andrea Keilen,
executive director of Texas Defender Service.

"No one would want to be prosecuted for a parking violation — let alone
for capital murder — by a district attorney who is sleeping with the
judge," added senior staff attorney Greg Wiercioch.

John Rolater, assistant district attorney for Collin County, told the
Dallas Morning News that the latest ruling was "a significant procedural

Hood, 40, is on death row for the 1989 murder of Ronald Williamson and his
girlfriend Traci Lynn Wallace. Hood was living with Williamson at the time
of the murder and was arrested in Indiana while driving his roommate's

(source: Agence France-Presse)


Despite affair, no new trial for death row inmate

A Texas death row inmate won't be able to argue for a new trial, despite
admissions of an affair between his trial judge and the prosecutor.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a ruling Wednesday that
convicted murderer Charles Dean Hood should have raised concerns about the
affair between the now retired court officials in earlier appeals. The
ruling overturned a lower court's recommendation that Hood should be able
to argue for a new trial based on the affair.

Current Collin County prosecutor John Rolater called the ruling "a
significant success." Hood's attorney declined to comment.

Hood won a reprieve last September, a day before his scheduled execution.
He was convicted in the 1989 fatal shootings of a 26-year-old woman and
her 46-year-old boyfriend in Plano.

(source: Associated Press)