New Evidence Shows Texas Death Row Inmate Innocent of 2001 Murder
Federal Public Defender’s Office for the Central District of California seeks a stay of October 26th execution.
MIDLAND, Tex (Oct. 10, 2017) ‑ Citing compelling new scientific evidence, a 34-year-old death row inmate has asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to vacate his scheduled October 26 execution for the 2001 murder of a man in Midland.
Attorneys for inmate Clinton Young, also have asked the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to recommend that the Governor grant clemency or a reprieve, saying the new evidence shows that the oil field killing was the work of Young’s co-defendant, who escaped the death penalty by testifying against their client.
“Putting Clint Young to death in the face of this stunning new evidence would be a tragic miscarriage of justice,” said Margo Rocconi, Chief of the Federal Public Defenders’ Capital Habeas Unit in Los Angeles, which is handling Young’s case. “As we observe October 10 as the World Day Against the Death Penalty, Mr. Young represents yet another compelling example of how the justice system can go seriously wrong in capital murder cases.”
Young’s case has drawn international attention. Amnesty International USA has issued an “urgent alert” to stop his execution, which is the subject of a searing documentary by a Dutch filmmaker. In addition, the Dutch Ambassador has gone on record protesting Young’s conviction.
The separate requests to review the new evidence are based on recent gunshot residue testing and witness statements that show Young was framed for the murder by David Lee Page, Young’s co-defendant and the star prosecution witness.
Page is serving a 30 year prison sentence for his part in the crime but could go free as early as next year under a plea deal he struck with prosecutors in return for his testimony against Young in the 2003 trial.
A Midland jury convicted Young of killing Samuel Petrey at an oil pump site near Midland. Police found a pair of men’s work gloves at the crime scene.
As outlined in the newly filed court papers, a nationally recognized ballistic lab retested the gloves using updated methods not employed at trial and found significant levels of gunshot residue. Page has admitted — and DNA testing has confirmed — that he was the only person who wore the gloves during the crime.
The new court papers also contain sworn statements from four former Midland County inmates who said they overheard Page brag in jail about shooting Petrey and describe how he would get away with the crime by cooperating with prosecutors to blame Young.
Young has steadfastly maintained that he was detoxing from methamphetamines and was asleep at the time of Petrey’s murder, which capped a drug-fueled trip that started in East Texas with the Longview murder of another man the day before. Although Young, Page and two others were present at that first murder, only Young was convicted of that as well.
Page, who was present at both killings, was sentenced to 30 years for his role in the kidnaping of Petrey prior to the murder. Since the trial, he has admitted to fellow inmates and Young’s defense investigator that he lied about many key aspects of his testimony against Young to avoid the death penalty. With the establishment of new evidence, even the court bailiff in Young’s case now says he believes the jury convicted the wrong man.
“Even though I sat through Clint’s entire trial, if I’d known these new facts I would not have convicted Clint of murdering Mr. Petrey and definitely would not have voted to sentence him to death,” said the former bailiff, retired Midland County Sheriff’s Deputy Ronald T. Bearden, who has given a declaration to Young’s attorneys.
The habeas petition and the clemency request both remain pending and have not yet been ruled on. They were filed by Deputy Public Defenders Margaret Farrand, Joseph Trigilio and Margo Rocconi.
For further information contact:
Federal Public Defender’s Office
O: 213) 894-7862
C: 310) 344-2721