"Henderson Granted New Trial," is by Jordan Smith for the Austin Chronicle.
In an opinion delivered this morning, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals says Cathy Lynn Henderson should be granted a new trial in the 1994 Travis County murder of three-month-old Brandon Baugh. Henderson was convicted and sentenced to die for Baugh's murder. Henderson was babysitting Baugh at her Pflugerville-area home when the baby died. Instead of calling for help, Henderson took off with Baugh's body and buried him in a field in Bell County before fleeing to her native Missouri.
Her April 2007 execution was postponed by Judge Jon Wisser in order to give her defense a chance to prepare an appeal arguing that "new" science demonstrated that the head injury suffered by Baugh could easily have been an accident. Indeed, at an evidentiary hearing former Travis County Medical Examiner Roberto Bayardo testified that the science had changed and that although he had previously testified, at Henderson's trial, that Baugh's injury could not have been the result of an accident there was now no way to say with any medical certainty that was the case.
At the close of the hearing Wisser recommended that Henderson be granted a new trial.
Now the CCA has agreed, deferring to Wisser's determination that the new scientific evidence was exculpatory in nature. "Although we need not accept the trial court's conclusions concerning actual innocence, we accept the court's recommendation to grant relieve and remand for a new trial," the court wrote.
"Henderson granted new trial in baby’s 1994 death," is by Chuck Lindell for the Austin American-Statesman.
Cathy Lynn Henderson, once two days from execution for the 1994 death of an infant she was baby-sitting, was granted a new trial Wednesday by the state’s highest criminal court.
The Court of Criminal Appeals deferred to the findings of Travis County District Judge Jon Wisser, who said last May that no reasonable juror would convict Henderson if they were presented with new scientific discoveries into the causes of head trauma similar to the injury suffered by 3-month-old Brandon Baugh.
In recommending that the appeals court grant Henderson a new trial, Wisser also noted a change of heart from the prosecution’s star witness, former medical examiner Roberto Bayardo.
Bayardo testified at Henderson’s trial that it was “impossible” to attribute the boy’s extensive head injury to an accidental fall. Later, Bayardo said advancements in the understanding of pediatric head injuries indicate that relatively short falls onto a hard surface could produce injuries similar to those he discovered during Brandon’s 1994 autopsy.
The Court of Criminal Appeals ruling was unsigned but accompanied by concurring opinions from five judges. Three judges dissented and one did not participate.
Earlier coverage of Cathy Lynn Henderson's case begins at the link.