Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Murder shows its ugly face, Plateau to Crosstimbers!

Onion patch and truck at Wynne State Farm 

Bryan – It's quite a lick, driving from the Edwards Plateau on the edge of the blackland prairie, across the Brazos, and thence to the Crosstimbers at Huntsville.

John Ray Falk, Jr., convicted murderer
Throughout the day, storm clouds rolled in moody shelves across a troubled sky flecked with forks of blazing lightning, then dumped gigantic gulps of cold rainwater in huge silver sheets across a thirsty land.

In transit to see about the execution of a black murderess who has killed elderly white women three times in her life, one learns that after more than 50 days and an estimated expense of a half million dollars, a Brazos County jury won't be getting the case against a previously convicted murderer who bowed up in the onion patch and held the reins of the riding boss's horse while his companion drove a City of Huntsville truck in a murderous assault.

The prosecutor objected to a requirement imposed by 278th District Judge Kenneth Keeling that jurors find that the accused capital murderer “should have anticipated” that his actions would cause her death.

This finding would have been in addition to three other elements of the case that would justify a verdict of death by lethal injection:

  1. Falk engaged in a conspiracy with Martin to commit felony escape.
  2. When Martin slammed into the horse with the stolen truck, he intentionally and knowingly caused Boss Canfield's death.
  3. The murder was committed in furtherance of a conspiracy to commit felony escape.

Wynne State Farm
The judge reasoned that if any of the four elements failed to meet the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, the jurors must acquit the defendant and proceed to consideration of a verdict of felony murder, which carries a penalty of life imprisonment.

Unsatisfied, the prosecutor made a second appeal, this time to a higher court, and the trial judge threw up his hands and hollered.

You can't ask a fair and impartial jury panel – one chosen from an adjacent jurisdiction on a change of venue - to wait nearly two months after hearing evidence and testimony on so weighty a matter as the capital murder of a corrections official, to wait even longer, Judge Keeling ruled.

He declared a mistrial. The People of the State of Texas will have to file their case against Mr. Falk again if they want to seek justice in the matter. They spent $150,000 for the testimony of expert witnesses and an additional $300,000 for attorneys' fees – so far.

According to witnesses who worked in the city's grease pit on the day of the murder, Boss Susan Canfield did a flip off her mount and landed on the roof of the utility truck in a glancing blow that broke her neck and left her face bloody.

She gurgled, choking on her life's blood as she lay dying, said one man, as he and others promised her they would pray for her immortal soul. Moments later, her life ended as her broken body gave up the ghost while an ambulance crew rushed her to a local hospital.

John Ray Falk, Jr., who was serving a life term at the Wynne Farm near downtown Huntsville for a 1986 murder committed in Matagorda County, had just moments before struggled with Boss Canfield for possession of her saddle carbine after she emptied her handgun at he and his co-defendant Jerry Duane Martin, also a convicted murderer serving a life term at the trusty farm. As he held the reins, the horse spun madly in frightened reaction, and the riding boss never saw what was coming.

Their escape in the truck they turned into a murder weapon was short-lived. Corrections and police officers soon had them in custody as they attempted to flee up I-45 where it passes the city maintenance barn and the Wynne Unit's truck garden.

They now both reside at the Polunsky Unit, which houses the men's death row. Mr. Martin has yet to see his day in court.

The state is seeking the death penalty in both cases.

She hath murdered thrice; twice by hammer, once by knife...

As to the execution of Kimberly McCarthy, the mother of a child fathered by Aaron Miles, the founder of the New Black Panther Party for Self Protection, her execution was postponed in an eleventh-hour reprieve granted by a state district judge until April 3 because defense attorneys argued white jurors outnumbered black by 11 to 1 in her second Dallas County trial following the 1997 stabbing murder of a septuagenarian psychology professor, her next door neighbor.

Evidence shown at the penalty phase of both trials showed that Ms. McCarthy has murdered three elderly white women, once by claw hammer, again by means of a meat tenderizing hammer, and lastly by knife.

The delay in execution of her sentence will presumably give the defense a chance to make a final appeal to the courts in a challenge of the array of the jury panel.

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