State recommends Shelby Co. capital murder conviction be vacated

Published: Jun. 22, 2012 at 3:32 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 22, 2012 at 9:39 PM CDT
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Kenneth Wayne Boyd
Kenneth Wayne Boyd
Kenneth Florence
Kenneth Florence
Karren Price
Karren Price

SHELBY COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - A capital murderer, convicted of killing three Shelby County residents in 1997, including a 13-year-old girl, could soon be released from prison.

Kenneth Wayne Boyd was convicted of the murders and sentenced to life in prison.

Boyd has now filed a Writ of Habeas Corpus, a document asking for freedom due to injustices.

Thursday, an order signed by District Judge Charles Mitchell stating agreement with allegations made by Boyd was filed.

It recommends that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals release Boyd, vacate his sentence and order a new trial.

"The order is penned by Boyd's attorney at the direction of the judge," said special prosecutor Kenneth Florence, Shelby County's Assistant District Attorney and acting DA.

Florence is in a runoff with Karren Price. She was the DA at the time of Boyd's conviction. Price chose not to comment about the order.

The order cites a pattern of prosecutorial misconduct including suppressed items of evidence and false testimony. These are some of the same issues that led to the appeals court throwing out Boyd's co-defendant, Rodney Moore's life conviction.

Boyd was whisked away in 1999 following his life sentence for capital murder.

To this day he maintains his innocence, along with three co-defendants.

Witnesses say he was in Jacksonville, not Center, When Brian Brooks, Percy Moore and a sleeping 13-year-old Christy Calhoun were gunned down in 1997.

He even passed a polygraph.

But recommendation for relief extends way beyond that.

Facts and conclusions of law are listed in an order signed by District Judge Charles Mitchell.

It cites the use of jailhouse snitches high on crack, lying witnesses, and suppressed evidence on the part of then-District Attorney Karren Price.

"The evidence shows that there was conspiracy, we believe, to frame these gentlemen," said Rick Turner, a private investigator.

It didn't take a private investigator to conclude the lies.

Family members talked about them during each break of the trial.

"I just wish people would tell the truth," said Jenna Moore, a relative of the victims, in a 1999 interview. "A lot of people are just lying. They're not being truthful."

The order claims the lies were all part of "deals" in exchange for their testimony.

The order reports the state suppressed critical information including that from a prime suspect.

The order cites a pattern of misconduct by Price. This gave the appearance the state would do anything for a conviction.

Kenneth Florence, Shelby County's current assistant district attorney reviewed the order.

"Our job is to see that justice is done and not to secure convictions," Florence said.

Florence is in a runoff with Price for district attorney.

Price isn't specifically commenting on the cases that have placed her in a bad light to this day.

Many of the same issues were raised in a successful appeal by co-defendant Rodney Moore.

The Innocence Project assisted in seeing his conviction and life sentence were thrown out in 2000.

Moore ended-up serving 20 years following a plea deal for murder.

"They might not be sitting church every Sunday morning, but they didn't do what they're accused of," Turner said.

Boyd remains in prison.

He's gone through one unsuccessful appeal.

Fifteen years later, his persistence with Mitchell is paying off.

At the county's expense, an appellate lawyer was appointed and the case was re-investigated.

If Boyd is released, it could cost even more.

"Mr. Boyd will likely be released from prison and will likely be entitled to over $1.2 million in compensation, as well as an annuity based on that amount," Florence said.

Boyd's possible release for a new trial is frightening to many witnesses and family members who fear for their lives.

Talk of retaliation and a renewed anger over the loss of three lives are restored.

Mitchell's court recommends the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals grant Boyd habeas corps relief, vacate his conviction and sentence, then order a new trial.

Florence is telling people about the claims against Price in an attempt to hurt her campaign.

To that issue, Price was willing to comment.

"It is certainly a lot of politics," Price said. "His, I'm told, response, his procedural approach, I think is political in nature. Is he doing that to win this race? He's doing that to defeat me. If that means winning the race than so be it."

Some observers, including price, believe the answer to Boyd's writ was orchestrated to hit right before the election.

The order was filed Thursday.

Early voting for the July 31 runoff election begins July 23.

Copyright 2012 KTRE. All rights reserved.