Smith Co. death row inmate dodges execution, for now - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

Smith Co. death row inmate dodges execution, for now

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Christina Muse & Son Cody (Courtesy Muse Family) Christina Muse & Son Cody (Courtesy Muse Family)
TYLER (KYTX) -

Attorneys for Troy Clark called for a reprieve Monday in the murderer's ongoing attempts to avoid the death penalty.

Clark was convicted in 1998 of killing 20-year-old Christina Muse and was believed to have exhausted all of his legal avenues for avoiding the death penalty earlier this year.

During a hearing in Smith County's 7th District Court, Clark's trial attorney, Bobby Mims, raised the issue of two recent Supreme Court rulings that some people read to expand the rights of defendants in capital crimes when they're raising appeals based on ineffective assistance of council. Mims asked the court to hold off on setting Clark's execution date.

One of Clark's appellate attorney, Jeff Haas, told Judge Kerry Russell the rulings put attorneys in his position in an ethical dilemma.

Clark, when asked directly, asked Judge Russell to go ahead and set his execution date.

Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham argued that the defense attorneys should have raised the issue earlier and had not properly informed the court of their intent to do so. Bingham reminded the judge that Clark himself was not asking for a stay.

Clark then told Judge Russell he was not sure what was going on.

Judge Russell explained that the attorneys were essentially asking that he appoint a fourth attorney to explore what, if anything, could be done based on the new ruling to potentially save Clark's life.

Bingham argued that setting a date would not preclude Clark's defense raising this issue in the future.

Later in the hearing, Clark told Judge Russell he would not mind waiting to see whether this new opportunity might result in staying his execution or reversing it all together.

Russell said he had been prepare to set an execution date 91 days in the future, and that he did not believe that would allow for enough time to involve the necessary state level agencies in pursuing an additional appeal.

Ultimately, the proposed date was vacated with a tentative plan to appoint new representation for Clark as he pursues a new appeal.

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