innocence blog

A Web log for the Innocence Institute of Point Park University

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Life looks bleak for Texas death row inmate

It seems that Frances Newton, 40, has exhausted all remedies for sparing her from the death by lethal injection scheduled to take place tomorrow evening, according to the Houston Chronicle.

The 5th Circuit of Appeals has refused to stop the execution, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 7-0 not to commute Newton's death sentence to life in prison, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has declined Newton's application for a writ of habeas corpus.

But, attorneys at the Texas Innocence Network continue to be optimistic. David Dow, a professor at the University of Houston associated with the Texas Innocence Network wrote a letter to Governor Rick Perry asking for a 30-day stay to prove the courts erred in linking the murder weapon to Newton.

Dow claims that more than one murder weapon was found at the scene of the crime and that officers may have concealed the information. Assistant District Attorney, Roe Wilson, claims she made a mistake when she stated on videotape there was more than one gun found at the crime scene.

Dow offers new evidence to the courts regarding the manufacture of the gun. Allegedly the two guns that may have been found at the crime scene were made by the same company, Raven Arms. He also argues that officers never identified the gun during court hearings by serial number, rather they just stated the gun appeared to be similar to the one they found at the crime scene.

The Texas Innocence Network is not the only organization advocating for Newton. President of the American Bar Association, Michael Greco, is also calling for a stay of execution. He said there is too much "compelling new evidence" that was not considered in court.

Newton will be the first black woman to be executed since the state resumed executions in 1982.