Richard Allen Masterson is factually and legally innocent. He did not murder the decedent, Darrin Honeycutt. Mr. Honeycutt died of a heart attack, not strangulation as the State theorized at trial. The State’s medical examiner, Paul Shrode, lied on his application for employment. Mr. Shrode lied about his qualifications when he took the stand in Richard’s case. Mr. Shrode’s lack of education caused him to miss elementary cardiology principles and incorrectly determine the cause of death. Mr. Shrode was not exposed as a fraud until after Richard was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death. But Mr. Shrode’s testimony is not the only problem with Richard’s case. Richard’s case was also a perfect storm of uninterested and underqualified defense lawyers. Richard’s state-habeas lawyer, J. Sidney Crowley, is widely regarded as the worst capital defense lawyer Texas. He lived up to his billing when representing Richard. Richard’s federal habeas lawyer started strong, but he lost interest at the crucial moment. Before this lawyer filed Richard’s federal habeas petition, Mr. Shrode’s fraud had been exposed, a death row prisoner in Ohio had been granted clemency on the basis of Mr. Shrode’s fraudulent testimony, and Shrode had been fired from his post. Richard’s petition contained nothing about this issue. Because Richard’s lawyers failed him at every stage, the court system will not provide relief to him based on insurmountable procedural obstacles. His last chance is executive clemency. The Governor is the last line of defense to stop the execution of an innocent, severely mentally ill man.
Texas Moratorium Network (TMN) is a non-profit organization with the primary goal of mobilizing statewide support for a moratorium on executions in Texas. Significant death penalty reform in Texas, including a moratorium on executions, is a viable goal if the public is educated on the death penalty system and is encouraged to contact their elected representatives to urge passage of moratorium legislation.
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