Friday, February 8, 2013

After years of insisting he was innocent of murder, death row inmate Charles Dean Hood pleads guilty, takes life sentence

Hood, Holland, the judge, O’Connell, the prosecutor
Charles Dean Hood, the death row inmate who insisted he was innocent in the 1989 killings of a Plano man and his girlfriend, has pleaded guilty instead of facing a new sentencing trial. He was sentenced to life and cannot appeal. He will not receive credit for the 23 years he has spent on death row.

John Schomburger first assistant district attorney in Collin County said prosecutors felt “vindicated in the sense that he acknowledged what we knew he did is murder those people.

“Our goal was is to see that he’s never released from prison and this plea deal is the best way to achieve that goal.”

Hood’s case created a legal furor several years ago after his attorneys waged a last minute battle to keep him from execution by raising allegations that the judge in his trial had been involved in a longstanding romantic relationship with the district attorney.

The former judge and prosecutor eventually acknowledged the affair but appellate courts never fully addressed whether it violated Hood’s right to a fair trial. Instead, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted Hood a new sentencing trial because jurors were not given proper instructions on considering mitigating evidence that he did not deserve the death penalty.

The new sentencing trial was scheduled Feb. 14 but Hood entered a guilty plea on Jan. 31.

Hood, now 43, was convicted of murdering Tracie Lynn Wallace, 26 and Ronald Williamson, 46, in their Plano home.

“Now he is just a number,” Wallace’s sister Julie, wrote in an e-mail. “I thank God that I am finally able to have closure.”

Source: The Dallas Morning News, February 8, 2013