In a Texas case closely watched by legal ethicists, Charles Dean Hood was spared execution last night when legal appeals delayed the execution until the midnight deadline, the Austin American-Statesman reports. Hood’s allegations of a secret intimate relationship between his trial’s judge and district attorney took a back seat to procedural maneuvering. Hood waited in a holding cell adjacent to the death chamber in Huntsville for hours while prosecutors sought his execution and his lawyers tried to prevent it.
Hood, convicted in a 1989 double murder, got what appeared to be a reprieve yesterday when a judge recalled the warrant ordering his execution. after defense attorneys asked for information about allegations of the relationship between former Judge Verla Sue Holland and then-Collin County District Attorney Tom O’Connell. Hood said his trial before Holland was unfair because of the relationship. “Only in Texas,” said Lawrence Fox, who teaches law at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania. “If we’re going to have the death penalty in America, then we better conduct the proceedings in a pristine way.”