Without Evidence: Executing Frances Newton
Unless the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Gov. Rick Perry act to stop it, on Sept. 14 Frances Newton will become only the third woman executed by the state of Texas since 1982, and the first black woman executed since the Civil War.
Unique in that historical sense, in other ways the Frances Newton case is painfully unexceptional. For there is no incontrovertible evidence against Newton, and the paltry evidence that does exist has been completely compromised. Moreover, her story is one more in a long line of Texas death row cases in which the prosecutions were sloppy or dishonest, the defenses incompetent or negligent, and the constitutional guarantee of a fair trial was honored only in name.
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