Charles Dead Hood was convicted in the 1989 fatal shootings of 26-year-old Tracie Lynn Wallace and 46-year-old Ronald Williamson. For the last two years, upon discovery of substantial evidence and later sworn testimony, that uncovered the romantic relationship between former Collin County District Attorney Thomas O’Connell Jr and the presiding judge Verla Sue Holland, Hood appealed for the dismissal of his sentencing based on the nature of the relationship. As the San Antonio Express News framed it, “Imagine finding yourself in court, on trial for jaywalking. You, of course, maintain your innocence. The prosecutor, however, seeks and obtains the maximum punishment allowable under the law. Then you discover the court was far from being fair and impartial (necessary under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure). The judge who presided over your trial was engaged in a secret, intimate relationship with the prosecutor who was trying to put you away.”
Hood was finally granted a new re-sentencing trial on February 24, 2010 when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals finally threw out his death sentence. However, in their 5-4 split decision, the judges argued that Charles Dean Hood is entitled to a new punishment trial not because of the bias on behalf of prosecutor and judge, but rather because “jurors were not allowed to consider mitigating evidence-childhood abuse or learning disabilities- that could have convinced them he didn’t deserve a death sentence.”
As such, Hood and his attorney’s are counting on an appeal made to the United States Supreme Court to acknowledge the affair and issue a full retrial. The request is supported by dozens of legal ethicists, retired judges and other former officials, including William Sessions, a longtime federal judge in San Antonio and FBI director, and former Texas Gov. Mark White.
The case of Charles Dean Hood has made international headlines, with many reputable news sources identifying the shortcomings made by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in dismissing the ethical implications of the affair.
The following is a brief list of stories related to this:
“High court should take up tainted Texas trial“- San Antonio Express News, February 27, 2010
“Undermining faith in the Texas criminal justice system“- Forth-Worth Star Telegram, February 26, 2010
“Divided court tosses death sentence for Hood“- Austin American Statesman, February 24, 2010
“Death Penalty Is Thrown Out in Texas Murders” – New York Times, February 24, 2010