Judge Considers Removing DA's Office from Case

The Tarrant County district attorney's office could be removed from its involvement in the appeal of a condemned woman after her lawyer raised claims of prosecutor misconduct.
A state district judge is reviewing complaints from the attorney for convicted murderer Chelsea Richardson that a district attorney withheld a report from Richardson's trial lawyers and interfered with her attorney-client privilege, repeating misconduct that resulted in a reversal in another death penalty case.
State District Judge Steven Herod, from Eastland County, took the issue under advisement following a hearing Friday.
Richardson, 25, was condemned for the slayings of Rick and Suzanna Wamsley, her boyfriend's parents, at their home in Mansfield in 2003. She's the first woman in Tarrant County sentenced to die.
Richardson's lawyer, Bob Ford, has argued the lead prosecutor at her trial, Mike Parrish, didn't disclose a favorable psychological report about Richardson, which would be a constitutional violation. He's also raised claims that Parrish, who retired from the district attorney's office last year, improperly failed to disclose that he indirectly received information from her trial lawyer's legal assistant.
At the hearing Friday, Ford submitted documents in another death penalty case prosecuted by Parrish that was overturned by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
In that case, convicted killer Michael Toney won a new trial after the Tarrant County district attorney's office agreed Parrish failed to turn over documents to Toney's defense team. Toney was convicted of a 1985 bombing that killed three people and the Texas attorney general's office is now handling the case after the Tarrant County prosecutor's office recused itself.
Charles Mallin, an assistant district attorney in Tarrant County, told Herod Friday the Toney case "was a completely different matter" that was irrelevant to Richardson's case.
"We don't think he (Ford) has proved that this office has any type of conflict whatsoever," Mallin told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Ford responded that he could think of "nothing else more relevant." He's hoping for a new trial for Richardson or a reduction in her sentence to life in prison.
At her trial, Richardson was described as the mastermind of a plot to kill the couple so her boyfriend, Andrew Wamsley, could inherit his parent's $1.65 million estate. Wamsley and a friend, Susana Toledano, are serving life prison terms for their involvement.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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