Richard Masterson is scheduled for execution in Texas on January 20, 2016. His lawyers are seeking a commutation of his sentence from death to life in prison without the possibility of parole. A copy of the clemency petition prepared by Richard’s lawyers is available here. It convincingly makes the argument that Masterson did not intentionally kill, but that the victim died during consensual sex act of autoerotic asphyxiation, that the medical examiner was unqualified and incorrectly determined the cause of death, and that his previous lawyers failed him “at every stage” of the legal process.
Sign the petition to support stopping the execution of Richard Masterson.
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.