Unless the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Gov. Rick Perry stops it, next Wednesday Frances Newton, 40, will become only the third woman executed by the state of Texas since 1982, and the first black woman executed since the Civil War, reports the Austin Chronicle. There is no incontrovertible evidence against her, and the paltry evidence exists has been compromised. The Chronicle says her story is another in a long line of Texas death row cases in which prosecutions were sloppy or dishonest, defenses incompetent or negligent, and the constitutional guarantee of a fair trial was honored only in name.
Houston prosecutors say Newton is a cold-blooded killer who murdered her husband and two young children inside the family’s apartment in 1987 to to collect life insurance. She contends that the murders were committed by someone connected to a drug dealer to whom Adrian owed $1,500. The alternative theory could explain the lack of physical evidence connecting Newton to the bloody murders. Although Perry said he saw no “evidence of innocence” – legally, an oxymoron – he granted a four-month stay of execution lst December to allow for retesting of evidence contested by Newton’s defense, including nitrite residue on the hem of her skirt and gun ballistics evidence.