British grandmother on death row loses appeal

7 February 2018, 21:13

A British grandmother who has spent more than 15 years on death row in Texas has lost an appeal to the state's highest criminal court.

Linda Carty was sentenced to death after being convicted of the murder of her neighbour in Houston in May 2001.

Prosecutors alleged that Carty, now 59, had hired three men to kidnap Joana Rodridguez and her newborn son.

She planned to keep the child and pass it off as her own, they said.

But Carty has always maintained her innocence and her lawyers say she was convicted largely on the word of her co-accused.

She was granted a new hearing by the appeals court in 2016 to present what she claimed was new evidence proving her innocence.

Carty argued prosecutors had coerced witnesses and withheld evidence.

But a judge dismissed that appeal, saying there was overwhelming evidence of her guilt, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has now confirmed his decision.

Carty was born on the Caribbean island of St Kitts when it was still subject to British rule and she retains a UK passport.

The Foreign Office has supported her cause and expressed concern about the prospect of her facing execution.

In an interview with Sky News on death row at Huntsville Prison in 2012, Carty protested her innocence and pleaded for more assistance from the UK.

She said: "I am 110% innocent.

"We are British. I can't wash off my nationality with soap and water. I am going to always be British.

"I won't get up and ask the British Government to go out in the public and lobby for me had I known that I am guilty because then it would be an embarrassment not only to myself and my family but also the country that I love.

"So for me when I say I am innocent and that I didn't commit this crime I mean that."

Her case has received celebrity backing and the support of campaigners at the human rights organisation Reprieve.

But the US Supreme Court refused to take up her case in 2010 and her legal options have continued to narrow.

She is one of more than 50 women on death rows across the United States, six of them in Texas.

The state has carried out more than a third of all of the executions since the US restored the death penalty in 1976.

But the number of executions being carried out has continued to decline across the country. Texas, which saw 40 executions in 2000, carried out seven last year.