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Romantic Affair In Murder Case Prompts Call For New Trial

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Lawyers have announced they are seeking a new trial for a death row inmate who escaped execution after new allegations emerged of an affair between the judge and prosecutor in his original trial.

The complaint lodged at the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on behalf of convicted double-murderer Charles Dean Hood, 39, on Friday, includes testimony of the affair, his lawyers said.

In the complaint Thomas O’Connell, prosecutor in the 1990 trial, testified that the romantic relationship with judge Verla Sue Holland “began around 1984 or 1985, that the romantic encounters continued until the middle of 1989, and may even have continued beyond that time.

“Mr. Hood survived five execution dates before the truth was disclosed,” the request continues.

“No one should escape blame for this reprehensible record that has eroded the public’s faith in the integrity of the judiciary.”

Hood was sentenced to death for the 1989 murders of a female topless dancer and her boyfriend in Plano, Texas. Hood’s fingerprints were found throughout the crime scene and he was arrested while driving one of the victim’s cars.

In June lawyers from the Texas Defender Service, a volunteer organization that, according to its mission statement, works to “expose and eradicate the systemic flaws plaguing the Texas death penalty,” obtained sworn testimony from a witness who testified to the existence of the affair between the judge and prosecutor.

Over the years 36 professors of legal ethics and 22 judges — including a former attorney general under president Bill Clinton — have requested clemency for Hood.

“This revelation casts a deep shadow over justice in this case,” Hood’s lawyers said of the romantic affair in their application for a new trial.

“The wall of silence that has long surrounded Judge Holland and Mr. O’Connell has finally come crashing down.”

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