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  1. #1
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    Thumbs down TX - Frances Newton facing execution for '87 murders

    Delay woman's execution, board says

    HUNTSVILLE, Texas - The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted Tuesday to recommend Gov. Rick Perry delay the scheduled execution this week of condemned inmate Frances Newton for 120 days.

    Newton, 39, is set for lethal injection Wednesday for the 1987 shooting deaths of her husband and two children at their Harris County apartment. In Texas, she could become the first black woman executed and only the fourth woman executed since the Civil War.

    In a 5-1 vote, the board agreed with Newton and her attorneys that she should be given the extra time so her attorneys can investigate claims that she may be innocent, that evidence against her should be retested and that she had poor legal representation at her trial.

    Perry can agree with the board or ignore their recommendation and allow the execution.

    There was no immediate comment from the governor's office.

    "I'm cautious until the governor endorses the recommendation," said David Dow, one of Newton's lawyers. "There's been a previous clemency request he's not endorsed, so I'm a little bit nervous."

    Earlier this year Perry rejected a clemency recommendation for mentally ill death row inmate Kelsey Patterson, who was later executed.

    Prosecutors said Newton killed her husband, Adrian, 23, and two children, Alton, 7, and Farrah, 20 months, to collect $100,000 in insurance benefits on policies she recently had purchased.

    An appeal seeking a delay in the punishment was dismissed Monday by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. A similar appeal remained before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

    "I didn't murder my husband and my children and I wasn't going to plea bargain for anything, and I still won't," Newton told The Associated Press in a recent interview at the Mountain View Unit near Gatesville, where the state's nine condemned women are imprisoned.

    Newton was offered a life prison term before her capital murder trial in exchange for a guilty plea, a deal she said she rejected. Under guidelines at the time, she could have been nearly eligible for parole by now.

    Her appeals attorneys, arguing she could be innocent, want time to conduct new ballistics tests on the .25-caliber pistol prosecutors said was the murder weapon and chemical analysis on the clothing she was wearing April 7, 1987, the evening of the slayings. They also argued her trial lawyers were incompetent and failed to properly investigate the case.

    Prosecutors have opposed the requests, saying the claims raised no new issues and were resolved at her trial.

    In Huntsville, preparations began for Newton's lethal injection.

    Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokeswoman Michelle Lyons said prison officials were informed Newton wanted no last meal served to her Wednesday afternoon in a small holding cell just outside the death chamber. She also designated her parents, two sisters and a brother, along with a spiritual adviser, to witness her death.

    Newton was to be moved at an undisclosed time about 140 miles from Gatesville to the Goree Unit south of Huntsville, where she will be allowed visitors early Wednesday. Later that day, she'll be taken to the Huntsville Unit in downtown Huntsville.

    The only change in the death house routine would be the addition of women corrections staffers, Lyons said.

    "Usually there are no females back there," she said.

    Newton would be the 24th Texas inmate executed this year, equaling the total of executions in the state last year. A record 40 were injected in 2000.

    She would be the third woman in modern times executed in Texas, where 336 prisoners have been put to death since 1982. Nationally, she'd be the 11th woman executed and the first since Florida injected a woman in October 2002.

    www.dallasnews.com

  2. #2
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    In a surprising move, the governor has granted Frances Newton a stay of 120 days so that key evidence can be retested...

    http://www.cnn.com/2004/LAW/12/01/fe...ion/index.html

  3. #3
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    Why the thumbs down on delaying this execution to retest key evidence?

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by LovelyPigeon
    Why the thumbs down on delaying this execution to retest key evidence?
    Its been 17 years since the murders. They had to wait until the day she was supposed to die? THIS is why the death penalty is so drawn out and expensive. If the defense has evidence to test, TEST IT before the date the execution is scheduled!!!!!!

  5. #5
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    17 years in prison go by so what's the hurry to execute right now? Especially when the board finds cause to retest evidence and that poor defense representation may have attributed to this woman's conviction.

    If the tests don't reveal exculpatory evidence, she'll be executed post haste. Surely it can wait a few more months when it's possible this woman was wrongly convicted.

    In the past 17 years scientific developments have made it possible to glean from evidence what couldn't be gleaned before.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by LovelyPigeon
    17 years in prison go by so what's the hurry to execute right now? Especially when the board finds cause to retest evidence and that poor defense representation may have attributed to this woman's conviction.

    If the tests don't reveal exculpatory evidence, she'll be executed post haste. Surely it can wait a few more months when it's possible this woman was wrongly convicted.

    In the past 17 years scientific developments have made it possible to glean from evidence what couldn't be gleaned before.

    I'm sure whatever developments and gains that have been made (and I DO agree that there have been some), most likely were available a year ago. I'm all for inmates taking advantage of EVERYTHING available to them, however, I think that the STATE should make sure that those things are done before the date of execution. That's all I'm saying. Of course I want the correct person executed for this murder. If she's innocent, then she shouldn't be executed. Surely you can see that the testing of this evidence that could save her life might also free her from prison if she's innocent. Why wait for 17 years if the technology was available one year, five years or more previous to now?

  7. #7
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    I don't have the answer for why not ask for testing before now. Maybe Frances Newton couldn't get any defense representatives interested in helping her until the "final hours"? The state, represented by the district attorney's office, opposed new testing and/or consideration of poor legal representation 17 years ago. The parole board disagreed with the DA office, and ultimately the governor was responsible for granting or not granting a 120 stay for further investigation.

    I'm opposed to execution, anyway, but I think it's reasonable for those who do support it to demand all possible investigation before it's carried out.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeana (DP)
    I'm sure whatever developments and gains that have been made (and I DO agree that there have been some), most likely were available a year ago. Why wait for 17 years if the technology was available one year, five years or more previous to now?
    Advances are made every single year, allowing for greater accuracy in the analysis and classification of key evidence. It stands to reason, therefore, that each and every year, an argument can be made for the retesting of evidence. It's often the case that the only request we hear about, is the eleventh hour request, when someone's life is on the balance, and the $tory has more impact.

    Concerning this case: there have been several developments in the area of GSR analysis over the years. For example, this year, the new technique of x-ray mapping has been proposed to distinguished between GSR and non-firearm aggregates.

  9. #9
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    Evidence against Newton included residue found on her dress. New test procedure can determine whether the residue is gun powder as the prosecution contended or only fertilizer as the defense now contends.

    Newton has proclaimed her innocence all these years.

  10. #10
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    Other evidence against Newton includes a) a neighbor saw her hiding the murder weapon in an abandoned house near her apt.--which she admitted. b) insurance policies she took out on children and husband and b) affair she was having with another man at time of killings.

    I really think the evidence all together is overwhelming in terms of guilt, but with so much public opinion leaning towards "test again" with new advances in chemical technology, Gov. Perry made his decision with a more political agenda. It can't hurt, obviously, and it will silence critics later.


  11. #11
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    Frances Newton Executed

    Newton executed for 1987 slayings


    Associated Press file
    Frances Newton has been on death row since she was convicted of killing her husband and two children in 1987.
    HUNTSVILLE Frances Newton was executed today for the fatal shootings of her husband and two children 18 years ago, becoming the third woman, and first black woman, to be put to death in the state since executions resumed in 1982.


    Strapped to the death chamber gurney and with her parents among the people watching, she declined to make a final statement, quietly saying "no" and shaking her head when the warden asked if she would like to speak.

    Newton briefly turned her head to make eye contact with her family as the drugs began flowing. She appeared to attempt to mouth something to her relatives, but the drugs took affect. She coughed once and gasped as her eyes closed and her mouth remained slightly open. Eight minutes later at 6:17 p.m. CDT, she was pronounced dead.

    One of her sisters stood flat against a wall at the rear of the death house, her arms raised against the wall and her head buried in her arms, refusing to watch. Her parents held hands and her mother brushed away a tear before they walked to the back of the chamber to console their other daughter.

    http://www.chron.com/cs/CDA/ssistory...story2/3354357

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  13. #13
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    They're always looking for the "Real Killer", aren't they?

    Hmmm.

  14. #14
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    Could you?

    [QUOTE=Jules]Another:

    http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/14/tex....ap/index.html[/QUOTE

    Why in the world would her parents want to watch? I couldn't

  15. #15
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    [QUOTE=Tom'sGirl]
    Quote Originally Posted by Jules
    Another:

    http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/09/14/tex....ap/index.html[/QUOTE

    Why in the world would her parents want to watch? I couldn't
    Many family members go to watch the executions. I would think it would give them some closure and a chance to say goodbye.

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