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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Texas death row inmate Charles Dean Hood granted reprieve. Terry Lyn Short not so Lucky.

Right: Charles Dean Hood
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
By MICHAEL GRACZYK, Associated Press Writer

HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A former topless-club bouncer condemned for a double slaying almost 20 years ago won a reprieve Tuesday just over an hour before he could have been put to death, while Oklahoma executed its first death row inmate since last August.

Charles Dean Hood cried Tuesday when informed he could live.

"I just thank God," he said. "I just walk by my faith. If it didn't happen, I was going home to the Lord."

State District Judge Curt Henderson did not give a reason for lifting the death warrant. He later recused himself from the case.

Hood's attorneys lost several last-day appeals, including one in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in which they claimed the now retired judge who oversaw Hood's 1990 trial, Verla Sue Holland, was having an affair at the time with the prosecutor assigned to the case, then-Collin County District Attorney Tom O'Connell.

After that appeal was rejected, lawyers from the Texas Defender Service filed a motion in Henderson's court seeking all correspondence from the prosecutor's office that may be related to the alleged affair.

Holland and O'Connell have declined to address the allegations.

Hood, 38, was convicted of murder for the 1989 slayings of Ronald Williamson and Tracie Lynn Wallace at Williamson's home in the Dallas suburb of Plano.

When arrested in Indiana, Hood was driving Williamson's $70,000 Cadillac but insisted he had Williamson's permission. Hood says he's innocent. Tuesday's was his fifth execution date.

Meanwhile, Terry Lyn Short, an Oklahoma man convicted of killing 22-year-old Japanese exchange student Ken Yamamoto in 1995, was put to death by lethal injection Tuesday evening.

Short, seen at right, was pronounced dead at 6:08 p.m., said Oklahoma Department of Corrections spokesman Jerry Massie.

Yamamoto, a student at Oklahoma City University, lived one floor above Short's ex-girlfriend and died after Short threw a gasoline-filled bottle into her apartment that ignited the building.

Short acknowledged during a clemency hearing last month that he threw the firebomb, but claimed he did not intend to kill Yamamoto, whom he did not know.
A de facto moratorium on executions was lifted when the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of lethal injection procedures in April.

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