Texas - Charles Hood Receives a stay

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Texas - Charles Hood Receives a stay

Post  Jennie on Wed Jun 18, 2008 2:16 am

(http://www.dallasnews.com/sharedcontent/dws/news/city/collin/plano/stories/061808dntexexecution.12444543.html)

05:25 PM CDT on Tuesday, June 17, 2008

HUNTSVILLE, Texas - A Collin County state district judge has put off the scheduled execution of Charles Dean Hood for a double slaying in suburban Dallas almost 20 years ago.

Charles Dean Hood In an order signed just over an hour before Hood could have gone to the death chamber Tuesday night, state District Judge Curt Henderson withdrew the execution warrant after defense attorneys for the inmate had sought any correspondence in the Collin County district attorney's office that could be related to accusations of a long-standing romantic relationship between one of Hood's prosecutors and the judge who presided over his trial in 1990.



The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had refused to consider arguments about the alleged affair, citing technical reasons that disqualified the appeal.



Charles Dean Hood, 38, was arrested in his native Indiana the day after the 1989 slayings of Ronald Williamson and Tracie Lynn Wallace at Williamson's home in the Dallas suburb of Plano.



Hood would have been the second Texas inmate executed in as many weeks as prosecutors in the nation's most active death penalty state worked to trim an execution backlog created after all capital punishments in the nation were stalled for some eight months by a U.S. Supreme Court review of the constitutionality of lethal injection procedures. At least 13 other inmates are scheduled to die in the coming months in Texas, where 26 were executed last year, more than any other state.



When arrested, the then 20-year-old Hood was driving Williamson's $70,000 Cadillac but insisted he had permission from the victim. Hood said he met Williamson at the club where Wallace danced, then was hired to do odd jobs and allowed to live at the computer software firm owner's home.



Hood maintained he was innocent of the murders of Williamson, 46, and Wallace, 26.



"I may not be the smartest person in the world, but I'm not what they say I am," he said from death row, where he was known to fellow inmates as "Hoodlum.

"

"It doesn't take a biochemist to figure out somebody else commited this crime," Hood said.



Lawyers argued in appeals that Hood didn't receive a fair trial. His trial judge and one of his prosecutors at the time of Hood's 1990 trial were engaged in an improper and legally unethical years-long romantic relationship they tried to keep hidden, attorneys contended in an appeal rejected by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.



An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court contended jurors received improper instructions when they decided Hood should be put to death because they were unable to properly consider his poor childhood and physical and mental problems. Another appeal questioned whether Hood should have been entitled to a state-provided lawyer to prepare a clemency request.



Hood said his fingerprints were at Williamson's home because he was living there.



Evidence showed his prints were on plastic bags taped to Wallace's body, which had been stuffed into a water heater closet. His bloody prints were on a weight machine used to block the closet door.



Other evidence showed he used Williamson's credit card to order flowers for a woman in Vincennes, Ind., where he was arrested, that he had pawned a diamond ring belonging to Williamson and tried cashing checks from Williamson's business by forging the victim's signature on the checks.



Hood's prints also were on a note left for Williamson, presumably from Wallace, when he came home for lunch. But Williamson called police, worried that his girlfriend had been abducted, because Wallace's name was misspelled on the note. An officer responding to his call found the bodies. Both victims had been shot in the head.



"If you murder, you kill, you deserve the same thing," said Julie Wallace, whose sister was murdered. "For a long time I was very angry. All I know is that from the day my mother said my sister was dead, I said whoever did it will pay for it when they stand before God and our justice system. It may roll slow, but I think justice always is served.

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She said her sister, known to her as Sissy, had told her Hood made her "very uncomfortable, that he did not want to improve his life and was just there to get what he could get.

"

"He was being asked to leave, and this is what happened," she said.



During the punishment phase of his trial, prosecution witnesses told of Hood's rape of a 15-year-old girl, that he had a juvenile and adult criminal record that included a two-year prison term in Indiana for passing bad checks. He violated his parole for that conviction by running off to Texas with an underage girl.



Hood came within two days of execution three years ago before winning a court reprieve. This was his fifth execution date.



Scheduled for execution next in Texas is Carlton Turner, set to die July 10 for murdering his parents 10 years ago at their suburban Dallas home.
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