Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Slam Dunk Case of Charles Anthony Boyd

In my search for the 54 innocent people I calculated Texas may have executed, I passed Charles Anthony Boyd through my coarse filter for two reasons. First, he used his final breaths to declare his innocence. I quote from the August 6, 1999 edition of the Laredo Morning Times:
Boyd initially declined to make a final statement. But, as the drugs began flowing into his arms, he said, “I want you all to know I did not do this crime. I asked for a 30-day stay for a DNA test so you know who did the crime.” Then he gasped and slipped into unconsciousness.
Second, the folks at Northwestern had listed him a someone possibly innocent but certainly executed. I trust the folks at Northwestern so I allowed Boyd through my coarse filter. I include the Northwestern list below, limiting it only to those people executed by Texas, adding my Actual Innocence Score for those cases I have already reviewed.
Odell Barnes, Jr., 69
James Beathard
Charles Anthony Boyd
David Castillo
Clyde Coleman
Robert Nelson Drew, 84
James Otto Earhart
Tony Farris
Gary Graham (aka Shaka Sankofa), 58
Jerry Lee Hogue
Jesse Jacobs
Carl Johnson
Richard Wayne Jones
Davis Losada
Robert Madden
Justin Lee May
Frank Basil McFarland
Charles Rector
Kenneth Ray Ransom
David Stoker
Martin Vega
Charles Anthony Boyd was executed on August 5, 1999 for one of the so called North Dallas “bathroom slayings.” Again from the Laredo Morning Times story.
Boyd was condemned for strangling and drowning 21-year-old Mary Milligan at her apartment [on] April 13, 1987. A recent Texas Tech University graduate, she had moved to Dallas to take a job as a bank management trainee. Boyd was arrested the day after Ms. Milligan’s murder when jewelry and other items taken from her apartment were pawned. The former bank janitor lived across the hall from her.

He also became a suspect after detectives learned of his past. Boyd had previous convictions for burglary and sexual assault and had been released from prison in November 1985 after serving less than half of a five-year sentence. …

In July, Tippawan Nakusan, 37, who lived upstairs from Boyd and worked as a waitress, was found stabbed and suffocated in her bathtub. That September, Lashun Chappell Thomas, 22, a nursing home aide, was found fatally stabbed and in a bathtub in the apartment complex. Then Ms. Milligan was killed in similar fashion at an apartment complex where Boyd lived. …

After his arrest, Boyd confessed and was charged with all three slayings but tried only for Ms. Milligan’s killing. Besides tying him to items taken from the apartment and his confession, prosecutors also had forensic evidence from Ms. Milligan’s apartment to link him to her death.
And that’s about it. I found very few stories about Charles Anthony Boyd. Nothing to tell me that his initial confession was coerced, that the forensics (whatever they were) were bogus, that his conviction was based on the purchased testimony of a snitch, that the real culprit had later confessed. Instead I found out that his appeals were based on a claim that he was mentally retarded and should therefore not be executed. From the ruling by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals:
Defendant Charles Anthony Boyd was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. He requests a Certificate of Probable Cause ("CPC") to appeal the district court's denial of his petition for habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2254. He contends that the district court erred because (1) counsel was ineffective for failing to present mitigating evidence of his retardation to the jury at sentencing; (2) the jury was prevented impermissibly from giving mitigating effect to evidence of his retardation and his positive character traits; (3) the failure to instruct the jury on the parole implications of a life sentence in a capital case rendered the Texas sentencing scheme unconstitutional; and (4) the admission of extraneous offenses at the sentencing phase violated due process and the Eighth Amendment. We deny Boyd's request for a CPC.
I found no other appeals in Google Scholar, nothing indicating that Boyd didn’t actually kill Milligan. I did find a plea from Amnesty International to not execute Boyd, because he was mentally retarded.
Charles Boyd, black, is scheduled for execution in Texas on 5 August 1999 despite evidence that he is mentally retarded. He was sentenced to death in November 1987 for the capital murder of Mary Milligan, white.

At Boyd’s trial his defence lawyers failed to investigate and present evidence of his mental retardation because they did not recognize that he might have such a problem. Although a prison report was available which stated that in 1983 Boyd’s IQ had been measured at 67 (an IQ under 70 is considered to signify retardation), both lawyers have since stated that they do not remember seeing this or other evidence that Boyd was suffering from retardation. As a result, they did not have Charles Boyd examined by any mental health professional. The appeal courts have ruled that this did not amount to ineffective defence representation.

In 1995 a federal court ordered a hearing into this claim of inadequate counsel. At the hearing, a magistrate heard evidence of Boyd’s mental retardation, including expert testimony from a psychologist and a neuropsychologist who had conducted evaluations of Boyd, and interviews with his family members, in 1992. At the hearing the court heard that Charles Boyd had displayed signs of having learning difficulties from early childhood. His mother did not enroll him in Special Education Classes as advised because she was “embarrassed” to do so. Charles’s nickname was “head” because he would regularly beat his head against walls and on the ground to receive attention. Charles was allegedly subjected to regular beatings by his stepfather and brother, often because the young boy was “slow” to respond to requests. It was only at the age of seven that it was discovered that he was deaf in one ear. Charles also suffered from seizures throughout childhood. [Emphasis mine.]
Without a claim of actual innocence, Charles “Head” Boyd didn’t stand a chance. In 1989, the US Supreme Court ruled that it was not unconstitutional to execute a mentally retarded person. Though 12 states had by then forbidden the execution of a mentally retarded person, Texas was not one of them. Indeed, Texas had rejected a law banning such executions just three months prior to Boyd’s execution.

Without a claim of actual innocence, I won’t even prepare an Actual Innocence scorecard for “Head.” Instead, I will arbitrarily score him at 0.01. I refuse to give him a zero given that he spent his last gasp claiming he was innocent. It seems to me as if there is more to this story, and I simply can’t find it from an easy chair in my living room. It disappoints me in several regards.