Hope for Carty as court debates death penalty

The latest skirmish in America's ongoing debate over capital punishment will take place in a court in Houston this morning, where lawyers for an accused murderer called John Edward Green will argue that the system has become so unreliable as to be an affront to natural justice.

They are likely to cite the fact that since 1976, when the US restored capital punishment, 136 death row inmates have been exonerated, including at least 12 in Texas.

At least one man has already been wrongfully put to death by the Lone Star State: last month, DNA testing revealed that a single hair used to convict Claude Howard Jones, who was executed for murdering a shop assistant in 1999, came not from him – as the jury had originally been told – but from the victim.

The innocence of another executed man is meanwhile the subject of heated debate. Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in 2004 after being convicted of starting a fire that killed his three daughters. But forensic experts have recently claimed that he was innocent, and that prosecutors obscured crucial evidence during his trial.

An official inquiry into his case by the Texas Forensic Science Commission will report next month. Its members have already admitted that there were serious "flaws" in Willingham's treatment.

Linda Carty's treatment at the hands of the Texan legal system is also said to have been riddled with basic errors. Carty, who emigrated to the US in the early 1980s to attend university, has always claimed British citizenship due to being born and raised on the Caribbean island of St Kitts. Under the Vienna Convention, UK authorities should therefore have immediately been informed of her arrest in 2001.

Had this happened, the Foreign Office would have been able to supply Carty with a competent legal team. But St Kitts failed to fulfil its legal obligation to contact the British Consulate in Houston. Paul Lynch, the current Consul General, said: "There was an appalling failure by her lawyer and the fact that we weren't notified meant that we were not able to give her support. I do not believe that justice was ever done."

Carty's court-appointed defence lawyer never mentioned she had spent years as an informant for the US Drug Enforcement Agency, failed to call defence witnesses and neglected to ask basic questions of prosecution ones. Detectives were never asked, for example, why they never took fingerprints and DNA samples from the body of the victim.

During one of Carty's appeals, Judge Vanessa D Gilmore, a federal trial judge acknowledged her conviction was "a harsh result", but said that an incompetent defence lawyer was not grounds for a retrial.



* Because of a production error, the number of exhonerated inmates in the second paragraph was quoted as 21,136, rather than 136, in the early version.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor