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(DV) Baker: Frances Newton -- Another One of Texas's Scapegoats







Frances Newton: Another One of Texas’s Scapegoats
by Brandy Baker
September 16, 2005

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The United States Supreme Court declared that the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools was unconstitutional. Some will be happy about this, while many of us will not care in light of the fact that this same court struck down the appeals of an innocent woman on Texas’s death row.

Last Wednesday night, the Supreme Court enabled the state of Texas to execute Frances Newton. Pat Robertson did not ask the governor to spare her life as he did with Karla Faye Tucker years ago, for only white women who frequently proclaim Jesus as their own personal savior need apply.

Did the Supreme Court bother to read the appeals? There are many others to hate for this: Prosecutor Roe Wilson, who recently admitted that there was more than one gun at the scene of the crime, but she later recanted. Wilson and her fellow DAs would rather cover their asses and let an innocent woman die than to be publicly proven wrong and allow a little justice. Or Ron “Death Row” Mock, who has sent 16 people to death row, and now 13, including Frances, have been executed. Twenty years ago, Mock took death row cases, many death row cases, in order to make a living and spent little time and effort on each one. Mock complained of being “too tired” to take Frances’s case. He took it though and was obviously too tired to do his damn job. Mock also represented Gary Graham and fell asleep during Graham’s trial. Graham was sent to death row and was executed on the testimony of one witness. Mock didn’t call one of the many witnesses who could have testified on Graham’s behalf. Mock has been disbarred twice and will not be able to practice law again until 2007. But why isn’t he being tried for accessory to the murder for all of the innocents he has sent to death? Let him be represented by an attorney just like himself.

And the corporate media did not exactly go out of their way to cover the inconsistencies in Frances’s case in any detail. The same night that Frances was killed, the media gave sparse attention to her while they were captivated by Britney Spears and her new baby. Rich, blonde pop stars who become mothers are sexier than poor, black mothers wrongfully convicted of killing their children. And who is this buffoon who wrote the article titled: “Texas Executes Woman Who Killed Three Family Members”? This “journalist” who, like many of his Britney-obsessed colleagues, was too lazy to do a little research and write about something substantial. Not a word about Mock, or DA Roe, or the faulty crime lab that has botched evidence in many Texas death penalty cases. He writes for, guess who? The New York Times, the one publication that will always have the back of the guiltiest in our society: the elites and politicians who rack up what the Times would call “collateral damage” for their own gain.

To come home and find Alton, her seven-year-old son, and Farrah, her 21-month-old baby girl shot to death along with her husband. In the chaos of accusation, conviction, and incarceration, was Frances ever able to deal with the trauma and grieve for her slain family? People need time and distance from such an ordeal to cope and move on as best they can, but Frances’s freedom was taken after the murders, which was most likely the worst event of her young life, so the pain must have always been fresh and the suffering enormous. Another unjust blow dealt to a woman who should have been comforted, not convicted for her loss in order to further the careers of a bunch of lazy hacks.

“Rick Perry is proud of his extensive record as a pro-life, pro-family conservative,” the Texas Governor’s website brags. We hear the same rhetoric from former Texas Governor George W. Bush who got his start killing on Texas death row and graduated to bigger projects such as killing Afghani and Iraqi civilians. Bush and Perry and their ilk treat life as a disposable commodity. After all, there is so much of it. We have six billion people. There are a few hundred dead here, and a million dead there. We won’t run out.

For those activists and attorneys who worked hard to save Frances’s life: take comfort in this sad time. We will one day celebrate the death of the death penalty for we are at the beginning of the end of capital punishment in the United States. This country will join over eighty countries that have abolished executions. Illinois is in moratorium, juveniles and retarded people can no longer be sentenced to death, and public support for the death penalty has dropped. But after we no longer have a death penalty, we will always remember Frances Newton, Gary Graham, Tommy Thompson, Leonel Torres Herrera, the Rosenbergs, Sacco and Vanzetti, and many, many others at the bottom who have been slaughtered by a system that leaves corpses in its path to domination and profit at the top.

Brandy Baker is a writer and activist living in Baltimore. She was a contributor to CounterPunch’s book, Dime’s Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils. She is also a contributor to Plastic Sugar Press’s upcoming book: Yellow Fever: Searching for Meaning in Supporting the Troops. She can be reached at:

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