Thursday, December 18, 2008

Texas death row inmate's conviction overturned

Withheld evidence again

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday overturned a death row inmate's conviction in the 1985 bombing deaths of three family members on Thanksgiving. The state's highest criminal court upheld a lower court's October ruling that the lead prosecutor withheld evidence during Michael Roy Toney's 1999 trial. The Tarrant County District Attorney's Office had not disputed that assertion. Chuck Mallin, chief of the office's appellate division, said Wednesday that District Attorney Tim Curry will decide in a few days whether to try Toney again after prosecutors review the case evidence. But Mallin said they still believe Toney committed the crime. He said Toney would return to jail in Fort Worth and that bond would be set but did not know the amount.

One of Toney's attorneys, Rebecca Bauer Kahan of San Francisco, said it was "a very exciting day." "We believe justice prevailed today and will continue to prevail," she said Wednesday, adding that she does not believe he should be tried again. "I don't think any credible evidence remains against Mr. Toney."

On Thanksgiving night 1985, 15-year-old Angela Blount found a suitcase on the porch, took it inside and opened it. A bomb exploded and killed her; her father Joe Blount, 44; and her cousin Michael Columbus, 18. Her 14-year-old brother and mother were also in the Lake Worth trailer but survived. The case remained unsolved until 1997, when Toney was arrested while jailed on an unrelated charge after telling an inmate he committed the bombing. But Toney later testified that it was a scam to get the inmate released, and he played along because he thought the bombing happened when he was behind bars for another offense, according to court records. He had testified he learned about the bombing previously from another inmate who had lived with Angela Blount's former boyfriend, who had been a suspect before authorities cleared him, court records show.

Although Toney denied any involvement in the bombing, his ex-wife and business partner gave detailed accounts in testifying that he was the bomber. But in appealing the conviction, Toney's attorneys argued that the lead prosecutor withheld more than a dozen pieces of evidence, including inconsistent statements by those witnesses.

Original report here

(And don't forget your ration of Wicked Thoughts for today)

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