TEXAS (USA): CHARLES DEAN HOOD'S DEATH SENTENCED OVERTURNED
February 24, 2010: The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals threw out the death sentence of Charles Dean Hood, whose case has been dogged by admissions of an affair between his trial judge and the prosecutor.
The court, in a 6-3 decision, said Hood was entitled to a new punishment trial because jurors were not allowed to properly consider mitigating evidence that could have convinced them he didn't deserve a death sentence.
The ruling made no mention of the affair between Hood's trial judge and prosecutor in Collin County. Last year, the same court refused Hood's appeal for an entire new trial because of the affair admission.
Hood, 40, insists he's innocent in the 1989 fatal shootings of Tracie Lynn Wallace, 26, and her boyfriend, Ronald Williamson, 46. A day before he was scheduled to die in September 2008, the Austin-based appeals court gave Hood a reprieve based on the faulty jury instruction claim, which is unrelated to the once secret romantic relationship between Hood's trial judge, Verla Sue Holland, and Tom O'Connell, the former district attorney in Collin County. O'Connell was the county's elected prosecutor from 1971-82 and from 1987-2002.
Holland was a state district judge from 1981-96 before moving on to the Court of Criminal Appeals, where she served before resigning in 2001. Neither Holland nor O'Connell have been publicly disciplined by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct or the State Bar of Texas. (Sources: Associated Press, 24/02/2010)