innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Guilt of Texas death row inmate doubted

On Sept. 14, the state of Texas will execute the first black woman since the Civil War, said the Chicago Tribune. Frances Newton, 40, was convicted in the late 1980s of slaying her husband and two young children in order to cash in on a $100,000 life insurance policy.

But lawyers from the Texas Innocence Network, claim there is not substantial evidence to say whether or not Newton actually committed the crime.

In December 2004, two hours before Newton was scheduled to die, Governor Rick Perry granted Newton a 120-stay of execution because of newly discovered evidence.

A videotape of the assistant district attorney, Roe Wilson, was found in which she stated four times there was a second gun found at the crime scene. She has since said it was a misstatement.

Newton's conviction was heavily based on ballistic testing of a gun police say she was hiding. The testing has been done three times, and each time matches the gun used in the murder.

Newton's attorneys are skeptical of Wilson's statements because of recent scandals that took place at the Houston crime lab where evidence was said to have been mishandled in several cases.

Other contradicting evidence includes a statement from the insurance agent that Newton never purchased life insurance, rather she came to him requesting car insurance. Her attorneys also pointed out in their clemency petition there was no blood found on Newton although, there was a trail of blood throughout the apartment.