Death Row Inmate Seeks to Halt Execution for Dallas-area Murders, Alleges Prosecutor Misconduct

AUSTIN -- Terry Edwards wasn’t the triggerman in a 2002 Dallas-area robbery that left two dead, his lawyers say, and the state is preparing to execute the wrong man later this month.“We uncovered really serious problems with the way this was prosecuted and also evidence that actually shows our client is not responsible for these shootings,” said Joseph Perkovich, Edwards’ lawyer.Edwards was sentenced to die in 2003 for the shooting deaths of Tommy Walker, 34, and Mickell Goodwin, 26, at a Balch Springs Subway restaurant. Edwards had been fired from the store weeks earlier, and prosecutors said he killed the two before fleeing. Witnesses said Edwards was later seen dumping a .38-caliber handgun in a trash can across the street from the store. He was arrested the same day and found with $3,000 from the store.Edwards is scheduled for execution Jan. 26, but his lawyers are seeking a stay in court documents filed last week. They want the state to reopen the case, which they say has been marred by prosecutorial misconduct and inept defense lawyers.Edwards’ lawyers allege that Thomas D'Amore, the lead prosecutor, elicited false testimony from a forensic expert and unconstitutionally cherry-picked jurors so that the black defendant faced an all-white jury. They say Edwards’ cousin, who committed the robbery with him and is eligible for parole, was the gunman.“The state elicited totally erroneous and unsubstantiated scientific testimony,” Perkovich said.The Dallas County District Attorney's office declined to comment on Edwards' allegations. And the prosecutor who oversaw Edwards' conviction was adamant he did not engage in any misconduct and that the jury's verdict was justified.D’Amore, who was fired from the district attorney’s office in 2006, was a prosecutor for nearly two decades and is now a criminal defense lawyer. He has been involved in at least three convictions that higher courts have overturned.Among them is the case of Richard Miles, who was convicted of murder in 1995. Miles was exonerated in 2012 after a witness in the case said D’Amore pressured him into incorrectly identifying Miles and lawyers discovered flawed scientific testimony from the trial.In Miles’ case, D’Amore also solicited testimony from a forensic analyst who said that gunshot residue on his hands indicated he fired the murder weapon. Later, the analyst said her testimony was inaccurate.The same analyst told jurors at Edwards’ trial that the young man had gunshot residue on his hands when he was arrested.“The record now shows that it is ‘scientifically unsupportable’ to claim that the presence of barium alone on Mr. Edwards’s hands meant he was the shooter,” lawyers wrote in court documents.Lawyers also contend that the prosecutor suppressed evidence from eyewitnesses who said they saw Edwards’ cousin inside the restaurant at the time of the murders and fleeing out the front door.Additionally, Perkovich said, lawyers who were appointed to represent Edwards at his trial and during his appeals did shoddy work at best, failing to fully investigate his case or mount a full-throated defense against the state’s charges.“There’s clearly ample material to require any court, or the district attorney’s office itself, to be so concerned as to stop this execution,” he said.D'Amore said he stands by his work as a prosecutor and on Edwards' case specifically. He denied wrongdoing and said he was cleared of wrongdoing in the Miles conviction.In Edwards' case, he said, the forensic expert was a defense witness, and he did not collude with her to produce false testimony."There was no collusion. There was no gamesmanship," he said.D'Amore said that his practice was to turn over all evidence to the prosecution and that he would have done so in Edwards' case. He also denied any effort to strike black jurors."It's simply not true," he said.Edwards' lawyers are trying to get him out of the punishment that jurors decided he deserved for the crime, D'Amore said."There's absolutely no doubt he's guilty," he said. "Both sides did their jobs properly, and the jury called it as they saw it."  Continue reading...

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