Linda is facing the death penalty in Texas, and for the duration of the decade she has spent on death row she has protested her innocence. Linda, allegedly, masterminded an abduction of a Hispanic four-day-old baby and the murder of his mother. Her motive? She allegedly wanted to claim the baby as her own. She had lent her car to gang members who then committed the murder- according to the gang members they were under her instruction. The case was so flawed in so many ways that I feel the need to use bullet points.
- There was no forensic evidence linking Linda to the crime
- The gang members were given a deal by police offers: "tell us Linda was guilty and we will relieve you of the death penalty"
- She apparently planned to cut the baby out of the victim's stomach. The scissors found in Linda's bag had rounded edges, yet they were overlooked in the trial
- Key witnesses were not called to the trial
- The Jury consisted of 10 white people: one black and one Latino. Linda is black (and living in Texas)
- She was only mixing with gang members because she had previously been raped and lost all of her self-confidence. After a relationship with a drug dealer she had started working undercover for the Drug Enforcement Agency
- Her lawyer, Jerry Guerinot, was renowned for being incompetent at his job. He spent a mere 15 minutes with her before the trial, compared to the hundreds of hours required to form a relationship with clients. 20 of those who he has represented have been sent to death row. He also called Linda various wrong names in court.
- The jury were not informed of the plea bargain that spared the gang members death.
- The victim was found bound and gagged in the boot of Linda's car (which she had lent the gang). Therefore, it could have been an accidental murder.
Filmmaker Steve Humphries travelled to Mountain View prison in Gatesville for the documentary, where Linda is imprisoned. He didn't really voice any strong opinions along the lines of believing Linda to be innocent. Yet that wasn't the underlying issue of the documentary. Even if she did organise the kidnap, it was because she wanted to take a baby of a different race and raise it as her own. She shouldn't be on death row but receiving psychiatric help.
I pride myself on having only ever cried at one film (The Notebook, obviously), but when you can't distinguish from your reality to the one you're watching, it's heartbreaking. One part of the documentary saw Linda sing 'Amazing Grace' to the interviewer. What was really upsetting was her warm expression, her constant smiles and how content she looked. She still clung onto the words she was singing- and didn't show an ounce of anger or contempt. Of course, she said she hoped to be set free, but she came across very calm.
The documentary was a bit haphazard in its approach - darting between an appeal for Linda to her life story, with parts explaining aspects of death row. The film didn't protest her innocence, but it did an amazing job of communicating the extent to which her human rights have been ignored. Was it enough to send an uproar through the British public? I hope so, but it doesnt look like all the disgust in the world could stop something like this from happening again in Texas.Unfortunately, the sad truth is that many more people will have spent yesterday talking about Desperate Scousewives.
Sign her petition here.