Execution Delayed for Inmate Convicted of Dallas-area Murders

AUSTIN – Texas prison officials have temporarily delayed the scheduled execution of a 43-year-old convicted killer while the U.S. Supreme Court considers multiple appeals intended to keep him from lethal injection. Attorneys for inmate Terry Edwards are arguing his case should be reopened so they can show that poor legal help at his trial resulted in an unjust conviction and that he had deficient legal assistance during earlier stages of appeals. Another appeal before the high court Thursday night raises questions about whether the pentobarbital Texas uses in lethal injections should be tested for its potency before Edwards is put to death. State attorneys are opposing any delay. The court order setting Edwards' execution gives the state a six-hour window, ending at midnight, to carry out the punishment. Edwards was convicted of a 2002 robbery at a Balch Springs Subway sandwich shop where two employees were killed.He was sentenced to die in 2003 for the shooting deaths of Tommy Walker, 34, and Mickell Goodwin, 26. Edwards had been fired from the Subway where they worked weeks earlier, and prosecutors said he killed the two before fleeing. Witnesses said Edwards later was 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.But Edwards' lawyers say he wasn't the triggerman in the deadly robbery. They allege that the lead prosecutor in the trial elicited false testimony from a forensic expert and unconstitutionally cherry-picked jurors so that the black defendant faced an all-white jury. They also contend that the prosecutor withheld statements from witnesses who said they saw Edwards' cousin inside the restaurant at the time of the murders and fleeing out the front door. They say Edwards' cousin, who committed the robbery with him and is eligible for parole, was the gunman.The lawyers sought to delay Edwards' execution and allow the county to assign Dallas County's Conviction Integrity Unit to the case, citing "grave concerns" about the validity of the conviction.State lawyers, however, argue in court documents that Edwards planned and participated in the robbery, knowing that the victims would be shot. They also contend that multiple witnesses identified Edwards and that he made incriminating statements while he was in a police car after his arrest. In a recording of his statements, Edwards was heard to say that he had "messed up" and got two murders."None of applicant's allegations exculpate him as a party to the capital murder, nor undermine confidence in the jury's verdict," Jaclyn O'Connor Lambert, an assistant Dallas County district attorney, wrote in a court pleading.  Continue reading...

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