First, consider the latest appeal of Linda Carty, who was "convicted of plotting the murder of her neighbor, Joana Rodriguez, in order to steal Rodriguez's newborn baby in 2001." Reported the Houston Chronicle (Feb. 13), "Her previous appeals have all failed - despite international protests over the fact that her Harris County-appointed attorneys spent only two weeks preparing for her capital trial." However, Carty:
gained support for a new appeal from two unlikely sources: the DEA agent for whom she was once a confidential informant and a star prosecution witness who has now recanted.See Mathis' affidavit. Further, reported the Chron's Lise Olsen:
In affidavits separately supplied to Carty's current defense team in 2014, the agent and two of Carty's co-defendants allege that Harris County prosecutors crossed ethical boundaries and threatened them to ensure Carty's conviction.
Retired DEA Special Agent Charles Mathis, in his affidavit, specifically accused Connie Spence, the lead prosecutor on the case, with threatening to cross-examine him in open court about "an invented affair that I was supposed to have had with Linda." Mathis insists that allegation was false, but worried that it could have clouded his law enforcement career if Spence had carried out her threat in a capital murder trial that generated considerable publicity.
The affidavits from two of Carty's co-defendants accuse Spence and another prosecutor of threatening them with a death sentence and of feeding them stories designed to "nail" Carty.Pretty explosive stuff, if it can be proven. And harder to discredit Carty's DEA handler than some jailhouse snitch. Definitely one to watch.
The allegations of prosecutorial misconduct have been presented as "new evidence" in support of Carty's effort to win a hearing, a request now pending in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals that was filed by Michael Goldberg, a Baker Botts civil attorney who has stuck with the case for more than a decade pro bono.
In other capital news, investigators on a true crime TV show this week announced they believe Rodney Reed, a Bastrop man sentenced to die soon for the 1996 murder of Stacey Stites, was falsely convicted. Reported the SA Express-News (Feb. 18):
The TV investigators found that the evidence points blame toward Stites’ fiancée at the time, Jimmy Fennell Jr., who provided a timeline of his whereabouts that at the time ruled him out as a suspect.See parts one and two of the A&E feature on Rodney Reed's case.
“For me, it’s obvious,” [retired NYPD detective sergeant Kevin] Gannon said. “As far as I’m concerned, the murderer is Jimmy Fennell… I can’t see it being anybody else.”
The investigators also sourced evidence that shows Fennell has a violent past, and that he is currently serving time in prison for kidnapping and sexually assaulting a woman while on duty and in uniform as a police officer.