British death row grandmother granted new hearing

February 25, 2015

A Texas court has today granted British death row grandmother Linda Carty a new hearing to assess recently discovered evidence in her case.

The evidentiary hearing, granted by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, will assess evidence that the key witnesses in Linda’s trial lied on the witness stand because they were threatened by the prosecutor into testifying against her. The new evidence was unearthed by lawyers at international human rights charity Reprieve following years of investigation.

Among the witnesses is Christopher Robinson, the only person who claimed to have seen Linda (56) carry out the murder of Joanna Rodriguez. Christopher Robinson has now admitted that Texas District Attorneys (DAs) “threatened me and intimidated me” into identifying Linda as the culprit. Mr Robinson, who was the key to the prosecution case, admits that he never saw Linda kill anyone and his testimony to this extent at trial was a lie.

Mr Robinson has signed an affidavit, filed in September 2014, in which he states that prosecutors “told me I had to testify at Linda’s trial to avoid the death penalty, and they made it clear what it was I had to say.” Mr Robinson adds that they “[told] me I would get the death penalty myself if Linda Carty did not get the death penalty.”

Several other witnesses at Linda’s trial have also admitted they were “blackmailed” by Texas prosecutors and lied or omitted evidence as a result.

Charles Mathis, a former Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) officer who was Linda’s ‘handler’ during the time she worked as an informer for the Agency has stepped forward to reveal the lengths the prosecutors went to obtain the testimony they needed. Mr Mathis’ affidavit states that when he told the Texas DA that he “knew that Linda did not have it in her to kill anyone,” and so did not want to testify against her, the DA “threatened me with an invented affair that I was supposed to have had with Linda.”

Celia Ouellette, Staff Attorney at Reprieve, said: “This is a wonderful day for Linda – and for justice. That a prosecutor can threaten witnesses to lie under oath and testify against a woman, who ends up being convicted of murder and sentenced to death as a direct result, is truly devastating. We look forward to giving Linda a day in court that is not rigged against her from the start.”

Michael Goldberg, Linda’s US attorney at Baker Botts LLP, said: “It has long been clear that Linda should have a new trial because of the catalog of errors in her first. Linda’s whole team has been working tirelessly for more than a decade to achieve this result and we look forward to giving Linda the chance at justice that she deserves.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1. For further information, please contact Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8161

2. The affidavits are available upon request.