Execution Halted For Jeff Wood, Who Never Killed Anyone
From the Texas Tribune:
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has halted the execution of Jeff Wood — a man who never killed anyone — six days before he was set to die by lethal injection.
The court issued a brief, two-page order Friday afternoon sending the case back to the original trial court so it can examine Wood's claim that a jury was improperly persuaded to sentence him to death by testimony from a highly criticized psychiatrist nicknamed “Dr. Death.”
Wood’s upcoming execution has gained national attention and highlighted Texas’ felony murder statute, commonly known as the law of parties, which holds that anyone involved in a crime resulting in death is equally responsible, even if they weren't directly involved in the actual killing. Recently, conservative state representatives have spoken out and written letters to the parole board in hopes of saving Wood’s life.
Wood was convicted in the 1996 murder of convenience store clerk Kriss Keeran in Kerrville, even though he was sitting outside in the truck when his friend, Daniel Reneau, pulled the trigger.
During his sentencing trial, prosecutors brought in Dr. James Grigson, nicknamed “Dr. Death” because of how often he testified for the state in capital murder trials, to examine if Wood would be a future danger to society if he was given life without parole instead of death. A jury can only sentence someone to death if it unanimously agrees that person would present a danger.
In his recent appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeals, Wood’s lawyers claimed Grigson lied to jurors about how many cases he had testified in and how often he found the convict to be a future danger. He also misled the jury by omitting the fact that he was ousted from the American Psychiatric Association, Wood's appeal claimed.
In 1995, the American Psychiatric Association’s Board of Trustees voted to expel Grigson after an investigation revealed that his method of predicting future dangerousness in capital cases violated the association’s practice.
Three jurors from Wood’s trial have said they would have discounted Grigson’s testimony if they’d known of the expulsion, according to the appeal.