Smith County man on death row loses US Supreme Court appeal

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused an appeal from a man sent to death row for torturing and drowning an East Texas woman in his bathtub and then stuffing her body into a barrel with cement mix and lime before dumping it in a ravine.The high court, without comment Monday, declined to review arguments that 50-year-old Troy Clark had deficient legal help at his Smith County trial in 2000.

Clark was condemned for the May 1998 slaying of a former roommate, 20-year-old Christina Muse of Tyler.

Evidence showed Muse was hit with a stun gun, beaten, bound and kept in a closet before she was drowned at Clark's Tyler home. Records indicate Clark and a friend were using and selling methamphetamine and were worried she would snitch on them.

Authorities believe Clark is responsible for at least two other killings, including a man found in a septic tank and a Houston drug dealer.

Evidence showed Muse was tortured with a stun gun, beaten with a board, bound with duct tape and drowned. Her body was encased in a drum filled with cement and lime.

Clark, 44, was convicted in 2002 of capital murder for the May 1998 murder/kidnapping of 20-year-old Christina Muse, who was believed to have been killed because Clark feared she would snitch on him for dealing drugs.

Evidence during the trial revealed Clark tormented Ms. Muse with a stun gun, bound her with duct tape and kept her in a closet in his south Tyler home for hours.

With help from his girlfriend, prosecutors said Clark bludgeoned Ms. Muse with a board and drowned her in his bathtub.

Torygene Bush testified against Clark, her former live-in boyfriend, and received 20 years in prison for her part in the murder.Clark's attorneys had contended Ms. Bush was the mastermind behind the plot.

Prosecutors said Clark encased Ms. Muse's body in cement and lime that he ordered Ms. Bush to retrieve from a nearby store.Ms. Muse's body was discovered by police, with cooperation from Ms. Bush, about four months later in a ravine on property belonging to Clark's landlady off Texas Highway 64, west of Tyler.

While looking for Ms. Muse, police found the body of federal drug defendant Tracy Mize floating in a septic tank on the same property.Investigators surmised Clark fatally shot Mize because he knew about the murder of Ms. Muse and was in a position to make a deal in exchange for leniency in his drug case.

Witnesses in Clark's trial contended he killed a man in Houston in 1988 and raped a woman the same year, but Clark was not charged with those crimes.

© 2017 KYTX-TV


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