death penalty news—-TEXAS

Dec. 9


Death penalty for guard killer in Texas escape

A Texas prison inmate convicted of killing a corrections officer during a
September 2007 escape is headed to death row.

A jury in Leon County decided Tuesday that 39-year-old Jerry Duane Martin
should die for the death of 59-year-old guard Susan Canfield of New

Canfield was killed when Martin and John Ray Falk, both inmates at the
Wynne Unit in Huntsville, broke away from a work detail, stole a truck and
rammed into Canfield while she was on horseback.

The fugitives were caught within hours.

Martin already had been serving to 50 years for attempted murder.

Falk is awaiting trial on similar charges related to the officer's death.
He'd been serving life for murder in 1986.

Canfield's horse had to be euthanized.

(source: Associated Press)


TDCJ offender gets death penalty—-Jury deliberates for 2 hours before
deciding punishment

A 7-woman, 5-man jury deliberated for two hours Tuesday before giving
Texas Department of Criminal Justice inmate Jerry Duane Martin the death
penalty in the death of TDCJ officer Susan Canfield.

Martin was found guilty of capital murder early last week for his escape
from the Wynne Unit in September of 2007, which resulted in the death of

The punishment phase, which began Dec. 1, concluded with attorney closings
on Monday, followed by over 5 hours of deliberations by the jury.

"I feel the verdict handed down by the jury was appropriate," Walker
County District Attorney David Weeks said. "Jerry Duane Martin will pay
for this crime committed in a community that so many have worked so hard
to protect.

"I hope that the those who wear the blue and gray appreciate what was done
for them today," he added. "And I hope this verdict brings some peace to
the Canfield family."

Canfield's husband of 18 years, Charles Canfield, took the stand during
the trials victim impact statement voicing strong words for Martin's
deadly crimes.

"I want you to find no relief in anything I say to you," Canfield said to
Martin. "You do not have a soul or a conscience.

"You are going to see Susan and her horse again one day; when you die,
they will take you straight to hell," he said. "You are never going to be
forgiven for what you took away from (Susan Canfield's daughter) Kara and
our grandchildren.

"I am glad you got this sentence because I get to be there when you are
taken from this world," Canfield continued. "How does it feel to be punked
by John Ray Falk and to pay part of his ticket?"

Canfield later when on to express gratitude to the jury for all their hard
work and sacrifice during the trial.

"I am glad the jury came back with this verdict and I appreciate all they
had to go through," he said. "That they spend a long time deliberating the
sentence shows me that they knew how serious their decision was."

The trial, held at the Leon County Courthouse in Centerville, began on
Nov. 12, and continued with seven days of testimony from around 30
witnesses brought to the stand by Weeks and defense attorney William

After a week off for Thanksgiving, proceedings resumed on Nov. 30 when the
jury announced their guilty verdict.

During the punishment phase of the trial, jury members heard testimony
from family members, including that of Canfields husband and daughter, as
well Martin's father and brother.

The jury had the options regarding Martin's punishment of life without
parole or the death penalty.

"We started this process Oct. 5 (with jury selection) really we started
on Sept. 24, 2007," Weeks said, adding his appreciation for the hard work
of his team, including Assistant District Attorney Jack Choate, Senior
Prosecutor Stephanie Stroud and Lead Investigator Jay Griffin.

"We were a great team I could not have done this without them," he said.
"I am also grateful to the staff at the district attorneys office for
making sure the work continued."

According to State District Court Judge Kenneth H. Keeling, who presided
over the trial, Martin's case will automatically be received for review by
the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Martin asked that current attorney William Carter continue as his council
during the appeals process. Writ council will be assigned at a later date.

Judgment for the case was set for 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 17, at the Walker
County Courthouse in Huntsville.

(source: Huntsville Item)


Woman on Texas death row loses appeal

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the conviction of an
Arlington woman sent to death row for the starvation death of a 9-year-old
boy who weighed 35 pounds.

Jurors at Lisa Ann Coleman's 2006 trial in Tarrant County heard testimony
that Coleman beat, bound, neglected and starved Davontae Williams.

Coleman shared an apartment with the boy's mother, Marcella Williams.
Williams subsequently pleaded guilty to avoid a death sentence and is
serving a life prison term.

An autopsy determined the child had more than 250 scars on his body when
emergency medical crews in July 2004 responded to a 911 call about a child
having breathing difficulties.

The 34-year-old Coleman, 1 of 10 women on Texas death row, raised 21
claims of error from her trial. The court Wednesday rejected all of them.

(source: Associated Press)