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End of the Affair: USSC Denies Petition in Charles Hood Case

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By Tanya Roth, Esq. on April 23, 2010 12:45 PM

The Supreme Court has rejected a petition by convicted murderer Charles Hood for a hearing which he hoped would result in a new trial. Hood claimed that the affair carried on between the judge and the prosecutor in his case violated his right to a fair trial. The Court denied Hood's petition without comment.

According to the AP for ABC News, Hood was convicted in 1990 of killing his boss, Ronald Williamson and his girlfriend Tracie Lynn Wallace at their home in Plano, TX., in 1989. Hood had been sentenced to die for the murder, but had his death sentence overturned by the Texas Supreme Court earlier this year. The court overturned Hood's sentence after finding jurors had not been allowed to consider mitigating evidence that might have affected their decision to sentence him to death. That ruling did not take into consideration the affair between Judge Verla Sue Holland and prosecutor Thomas O'Connell.

In 2008, during the legal proceedings around re-sentencing, Holland and O'Connell admitted the affair. However, as Reuters reports, they say it ended in 1987, three years before Holland's trial. The AP writes the affair was reportedly and "open secret" in Collin County legal circles. Regardless of the timing, Hood's attorneys felt the relationship amounted to a unconstitutional violation of Hood's rights.

"No one should be prosecuted for a parking ticket let alone for capital murder by the district attorney who has had a sexual affair with the judge handling the case and despite the Court's decision today, we will continue to zealously represent Mr. Hood as we believe his case was marred by a fundamental injustice," said Hood's attorney, Andrea Keilen, director of the Texas Defender Service.

Hood's attorneys petitioned the Supreme Court to hear the case after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed the appeal, ruling Hood had waited too long in raising the issue of whether Holland had a conflict of interest and should have recused herself from the case.

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