That's the title of today's Dallas Morning News article on the case Hector Medina written by Tiara Ellis. LINK
A Dallas County judge quickly ruled Wednesday that the lead defense attorney in the Hector Medina death penalty trial was qualified for the job, even though her name was not on a list of attorneys approved to handle capital punishment cases.
Donna Winfield was on the list a few years ago, has experience and attended continuing education classes to prepare for the trial. As a result, state District Judge Andy Chatham said, she was qualified and capable of doing the job. Dallas County prosecutors agreed.
But a question remains as to whether Ms. Winfield purposely threw in the towel during the punishment phase of Mr. Medina's trial. He was sentenced to death in October for fatally shooting his two children outside his Irving home in March 2007 after their mother left him.
At punishment, Ms. Winfield said that her key witness, a neuropsychologist, was working on a military trial in North Carolina and could not be here until January. She asked Judge Chatham for a three-month delay, a request he promptly denied.
So the defiant attorney called no witnesses, refused to proceed with the capital murder trial and was thrown in jail for a few hours by the judge for contempt of court.
"I wasn't going to put on a disjointed defense of Mr. Medina," Ms. Winfield said Wednesday at a hearing in Judge Chatham's courtroom to request a new trial. "That wasn't fair to him or to the jury."
Kim Schaefer, an appellate attorney for Dallas County, questioned Ms. Winfield during Wednesday's hearing about her strategy and pointed out that other witnesses were available and in court, including another medical expert, character witnesses and jail officials who could speak to Mr. Medina's threat as a continuing danger to society.
Ms. Winfield, who testified for more than three hours Wednesday, stressed that she believed her defense case was strong and that Mr. Medina was a prime candidate for life in prison with no opportunity for parole, the only other punishment option the jury had. But she said her entire case hung on that one expert witness who would not be available until January.
Earlier coverage is here.