The story of Charles Dean Hood, who was scheduled to die tonight for the 1989 murder of Ronald Williamson and his girlfriend Tracie Wallace in Plano, has garnered national attention since at least 2005, when Salon first broke the story that State District Court Judge Verla Sue Holland and Collin County District Attorney Tom O'Connell were allegedly having an affair during the time of Hood's trial in 1990. The story asked the question: "Let's say you're on trial for murder, and the judge and the prosecutor in your case have been having an affair. Is it possible for you to get a fair trial?" Hood and his attorneys certainly didn't think so, as Salon noted in is follow-up this week. Neither does CBS News analyst Andrew Cohen, who today wrote:
I have no idea whether Hood is guilty of his crimes or not -- the odds say that he is. For all I know there was plenty of good evidence against him and another judge might also have rendered decisions leading to Hood’s conviction. But right now that is not the point. Right now the point is to determine, before it is too late for Hood, whether the law in America -- and not just in Texas -- permits a capital conviction when such a potentially blatant conflict of interest exists.
Apparently, notoriously conservative State District Judge Curt Henderson agrees, as moments ago he withdrew the execution warrant after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals yesterday refused to hear the appeal. Which means Charles Dean Hood, like Buffalo Chambers yesterday, will live to see another day. --Robert Wilonsky
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.