British grandmother in appeal to escape death row

A British grandmother is to stage an 11th-hour appeal against her execution in Texas as her lawyers tell judges today that she has been the victim of a gross miscarriage of justice.

Linda Carty, 51, was convicted and sentenced to die by lethal injection for the murder of Joana Rodriguez in 2001. Three men broke into Ms Rodriguez's apartment in Houston, assaulting her partner and demanding drugs and cash before abducted Ms Rodriguez and her four-day-old son. The baby was found unharmed in the back seat of a car, but Ms Rodriguez suffocated after being locked in the boot. Ms Carty's legal team claim she was convicted following a flawed trial in Texas after it was alleged that she ordered the kidnapping. Reprieve, the human rights charity representing Ms Carty, alleges that her trial lawyer failed to properly put the case for the defence.

Reprieve's director Clive Stafford Smith said: "Linda's legal representation at trial was appalling, and she would not be on death row today if she had received an adequate defence."

He added that only last week a US judge made it clear that someone who is innocent can be executed, so long as it can be shown they had a "fair" trial.

"Linda is dangerously close to the execution chamber, and the British Government needs to do everything in its power to save Linda's life," he said.

If Ms Carty is unsuccessful in her appeal, her case is expected to be handed back to the Governor of Texas. Since he succeeded George Bush as Governor nine years ago, Rick Perry has only granted clemency to one death row inmate: Kenneth Foster in 2007.

Linda Carty was born on the Caribbean island of St Kitts to Anguillan parents and holds a UK dependant territory passport. She worked as a primary school teacher in St Kitts until she was 23.

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