Witnesses against death row grandmother admit they lied following threats from prosecutors
February 16, 2015
Key witnesses against a British grandmother on death row in Texas have said that prosecutors in her 2002 trial threatened or ‘blackmailed’ them into testifying against her.
Among them is the only person who claimed to have seen Linda Carty (56) carry out the murder of Joanna Rodriguez, who has now admitted that Texan District Attorneys (DAs) “threatened me and intimidated me” into identifying Ms Carty as the culprit. Christopher Robinson, who was the key to the prosecution case, admits that he never saw Ms Carty 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 testifies 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 Ms Carty’s trial have also admitted they were “blackmailed” by Texan prosecutors, and lied or omitted evidence as a result.
Charles Mathis, a former Drugs Enforcement Agency (DEA) officer who was Ms Carty’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 Texan 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.”
“I felt that [Texas DA Connie] Spence was threatening and blackmailing me into testifying,” Mr Mathis concludes. “It struck me that Spence wanted a death sentence as a feather in her cap. She was far more interested in a death conviction that the truth.”
As a result of the Prosecutor’s threat to smear him and ruin his marriage with a fictional affair, Mr. Mathis omitted testimony regarding “misconduct during the investigation”.
The new testimony – which was unearthed by lawyers at international legal non-profit Reprieve following years of work and investigation – is currently being considered by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA). Ms Carty’s lawyers are asking for an evidentiary hearing to air this newly discovered evidence and ultimately seek a new trial.
Commenting, Clare Algar, Executive Director of Reprieve said:
“If Linda is not granted a new hearing, she faces the death penalty based on lies extracted by prosecutors desperate to secure an execution at any cost. The behaviour of prosecutors in this case has been so appalling it takes the breath away. They have stooped to targeting the marriage of one witness with invented slurs, while using the threat of death to force another to produce the lies they needed for conviction. Linda’s last hope is that Texas recognises that she deserves a new – and this time fair – trial.”
Notes to editors
For further information, or to request copies of the relevant documents, please contact Reprieve’s press office: +44 (0) 207 553 8140