Fort Worth

Fort Worth death row inmate gets second stay of execution this year

The gurney in Huntsville, Texas, where Texas' condemned are strapped down to receive a lethal dose of drugs.
The gurney in Huntsville, Texas, where Texas' condemned are strapped down to receive a lethal dose of drugs. AP

An appeals court has postponed a second execution date for a death row inmate from Fort Worth who was scheduled to die next week.

In an order issued Friday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that they would review Tilon Lashon Carter’s application for relief before going forward with his execution, which was scheduled for Tuesday.

Carter, 37, was convicted of the robbery and 2004 slaying of James Tomlin, 89, a Bell Helicopter retiree. Prosecutors said that Carter and his girlfriend, Leketha Allen, went to Tomlin's home to rob him and took $6,000. Allen was sentenced to 25 years after agreeing to a plea bargain arrangement with prosecutors.

Carter’s attorney, Raoul D. Schonemann, filed a motion on Tuesday to set aside the execution date, arguing that new evidence conflicts with evidence that was presented at trial. The motion also states that Carter had ineffective trial counsel and was denied due process because Nizam Peerwani, Tarrant County medical examiner, presented false and misleading testimony.

Peerwani’s testimony led the jury to believe that Tomlin had been intentionally smothered, even though Tomlin’s cause of death was listed as “smothering with positional asphyxia,” which may not have been intentional, the motion contends. Carter’s trial attorney never sought evidence highlighting the role that intent played in the trial, which Schonemann used to bolster his allegation that Carter had ineffective counsel.

The motion also argues that the autopsy results, from Peerwani and three other experts, do not support the theory that Tomlin’s death was caused by an intentional act.

Carter survived an earlier execution date scheduled for Feb. 7 due to a technicality. The appeals court granted a stay of execution by a 5-4 vote on the grounds that notice of the scheduled execution date arrived half a day late at a state office that sometimes works on death penalty appeals.

Two death row inmates from Tarrant County have been executed this year. Christopher Wilkins was put to death on Jan. 11 for a double murder committed in Fort Worth. He was the first person to be executed in the United States this year.

Texas also executed a former Kennedale auto mechanic who killed a father and his infant son in a 1987 Christmas Eve killing spree. James Eugene Bigby, 61, was pronounced dead on March 14.

An execution date for Paul Storey, which had also been set for this year, was stayed pending a hearing.

Storey, 32, who was convicted for the murder of Jonas Cherry, was scheduled to die on April 12. Cherry, a manager at the Putt-Putt Golf and Games in Hurst, was shot twice in the head and twice in his legs on Oct. 16, 2006 on a robbery.

This report includes material from the Star-Telegram archives.

Mitch Mitchell:

817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3