A Texas prosecutor who sought the death penalty almost 20 years ago against a man who never killed anyone has asked that his sentence be reduced to life in prison, the Texas Tribune reports. Kerr County district attorney Lucy Wilke was the prosecutor in the 1998 murder trial of Jeff Wood, whose scheduled execution last year prompted lawmakers to question when the state should put accomplices to death. Although she originally decided to seek the death penalty for Wood, she told the prison parole board that “the penalty now appears to be excessive.” Wilke asked the board to recommend Gov. Greg Abbott grant clemency and change Wood’s sentence to life in prison “in the interest of justice and judicial economy.”
Abbott has not changed a death sentence since he took office in 2015. Wood’s case gained national attention in August 2016, as his execution date neared. Wood, now 44, was convicted and sentenced to death in a 1996 convenience store murder. He was sitting outside in the truck when a friend pulled the trigger that killed a clerk. As an accomplice, he was sentenced under Texas’ felony murder statute, commonly known as the law of parties, which holds that anyone involved in a crime resulting in death is equally responsible, even if they weren’t directly involved in the killing. Wood’s attorneys claimed he didn’t go to the store with the intention of having the clerk killed and didn’t even know the friend brought a gun. Prosecutors disputed that.