Lawyers for Linda Carty argued that their client was denied due process when prosecutors did not disclose false witness testimony that painted the defendant as the apparent mastermind of a 2001 murder kidnapping.
The Houston Chronicle reported that Carty was sentenced to death after she was convicted of the murder of her neighbour, Joana Rodriguez, in May 2001.
Rodriguez was found bound and gagged in the trunk of a car after she and her newborn baby were taken from her Houston home.
After hearing Carty’s appeal, Judge David Garner said prosecutors still had overwhelming evidence of the defendant’s guilt from other sources.
Mr Garner agreed that prosecutors should have turned over their witness statements in the 2002 trial, but he ruled that it was not likely have changed the course of Carty’s conviction.
“These were serious and unfounded allegations of misconduct against two very senior prosecutors who have done nothing for the past two decades except protect and serve people of Harris County. And this recommendation serves to uphold their fine reputations,” Assistant District Attorney Josh Reiss told the Chronicle after the Thursday ruling.
Carty – an ex-Drug Enforcement Agency informant born in the Caribbean island of St Kitts when it was under British rule – reportedly led police to the vehicle where Rodriguez was found asphyxiated. The newborn was rescued. Although, Carty maintains her innocence, prosecutors said she orchestrated the kidnapping with three other men – who did not receive death sentences for their participation in the crime.
Prosecutors said that Carty wanted Rodriguez’s newborn son after suffering several miscarriages.
Carty was convicted under the Texas “law of parties” which dictates that a person is criminally liable if one “solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the other person to commit the offence”.
Carty worked with three co-conspirators, according to court documents, but was the only of the group to be sentenced to death. Two men testified against her – who later accused prosecutors of coercion – but all three were still convicted and sentenced to time in prison for kidnapping.
Texas is the most active capital punishment state in the US, but as public opinion of the method dwindles, so do execution numbers. The state has, so far, executed six inmates this year, with five more scheduled in 2016.
In 2000, the US carried out 85 executions in total – 40 of those occurred in Texas. But in 2015, the state only executed 13 people, according to the Death Penalty Information Centre.