"Death Row Inmate's Sentence Reduced to Life," is the title of Brandi Grissom's Texas Tribune post.
Delma Banks Jr., who has been on death row for three decades, on Wednesday accepted a life sentence and will be eligible for parole in 2024 under an agreement with Bowie County prosecutors.
Banks, 53, was convicted of the 1980 shooting death of 16-year-old Richard Whitehead. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Banks’ death sentence in 2004, finding that Bowie County prosecutors who tried the case suppressed evidence and deliberately covered up their mistakes for decades. A trial to decide a new sentence for Banks was scheduled for October.
Bowie County District Attorney Jerry Rochelle told the Texarkana Gazette that Whitehead’s family wanted the case to end.
Almost 20 years after the trial, in 1999, a federal judge forced Bowie County to open its case records. Banks’ lawyers discovered a transcript showing that Cook’s testimony had been extensively rehearsed and coached. They also learned that the police had paid Farr, an informant who had an unreliable record, $200 for his role in the investigation.
Farr, in an affidavit, said he was afraid that the police would arrest him on drug charges. In exchange for the money, and to avoid jail, he agreed to set up Banks, he said. Prosecutors allowed Cook and Farr to lie in court and never told jurors that their information was false, the U.S. Supreme Court found.
The AP filing is, "30-year-old death row case ends with plea deal." It's via the Sacramento Bee.
One of Texas' longest-serving death row inmates has avoided execution for a slaying more than three decades ago with a sentencing agreement that makes him eligible for parole in 12 years.
Delma Banks arrived on death row in 1980 for stealing the car and fatally shooting a teenager six months earlier near Texarkana in far northeast Texas.
Banks long argued his trial for killing 16-year-old Wayne Whitehead was unfair, contending prosecutors withheld information that a witness during his punishment trial was a paid police informant.
The U.S. Supreme Court upheld 53-year-old Banks' conviction but agreed he should have a new punishment hearing.
The Texarkana Gazette reports the plea agreement was reached Wednesday.
In 2003, Banks got within 10 minutes of his scheduled execution before the Supreme Court stopped it.
More on the U.S. Supreme Court's 2004 ruling in Banks v. Dretke, is via Oyez.