Age 19 + No Prior Record + Sloppy Lawyers = Death Sentence

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Anthony Haynes

Anthony Haynes

Anthony Haynes, a 19-year-old at the time of the crime with no prior criminal history, is scheduled to be executed in Texas on October 18.

As noted in this space previously, there were serious issues of racial bias in his case (African American defendant, 11 white jurors, judge cleaning guns during jury selection). There were also bad lawyers and a possibly coerced confession. Despite this, the state of Texas is prepared to put this man to death for a crime he committed as a teenager under the influence of crystal meth.

Two days before Haynes fatally shot Kent Kincaid, an off-duty police officer, a friend of the family had given him crystal meth. It was Haynes’ first experience with the drug. The same friend wrote in a sworn statement that during those two days Haynes began “talking crazy,” saying he had been unable to sleep for days and thought someone was following him. When Sergeant Kincaid approached Haynes’ car, Haynes’ drug-induced paranoia really kicked in – he believed he would be dragged from the car. He shot and killed Officer Kincaid.

A doctor who specializes in psychiatry concluded in 2005 that Haynes’ actions that night were inconsistent with previous behavior and his diminished capacity was due to his first-time use of meth. The jury never heard that Haynes had used crystal meth prior to the shooting.

Sloppy Lawyers

Predicting “future dangerousness” is a prerequisite for Texas death sentences, and Anthony Haynes’ lawyer failed to offer a strong challenge to the state’s weak case for his future dangerousness.  Without the violence inducing effects of meth, there was little to suggest Haynes would be an ongoing threat.

Haynes has no previous criminal record. More than 3 dozen friends and family offered to testify about Haynes’ good character and against the claim that Haynes would be a future threat to society. Yet Haynes’ defense lawyer refused most offers of testimony and failed to even interview many family members.

Haynes’ inadequate representation continued into his habeas corpus appeal. His court appointed habeas lawyer didn’t investigate the failures of his trial lawyer. In a 2006 article in the Austin American-Statesman, the habeas attorney was cited as one of the “sloppy lawyers failing clients on death row”, due to a habit of submitting habeas corpus petitions that were “copied largely verbatim” from the prisoner’s previous appeal.

A Coerced Confession?

For Texas to obtain the death penalty in this case, the prosecution also had to prove that Haynes knew Sergeant Kincaid was a police officer at the time of the shooting. Kincaid was off-duty the day of the shooting and was dressed in plain clothes, driving his personal car. In his initial statement, for which he waived his right to have a lawyer present, Haynes confessed to the shooting and to knowing that Kincaid was a police officer.

Haynes has since maintained that this confession was coerced, and that he did not know Kincaid was an officer. During and before his interrogation, Haynes was not allowed to use the bathroom, eat or rest, and was still feeling the effects of his meth use. As we have all seen recently, it doesn’t always take much to coerce a false confession. Despite Haynes’ allegation that the confession was coerced, the judge allowed it to be used as evidence that led to his being sentenced to death in 1999.

Stop this execution

Anthony Haynes should be granted a new sentencing hearing so that the mountains of unheard mitigating evidence can finally be presented. At the least, he should be granted clemency and have his sentence commuted.  Executing Anthony Haynes after such a dubious legal process would be a fundamental injustice.

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36 thoughts on “Age 19 + No Prior Record + Sloppy Lawyers = Death Sentence

  1. From a friend in Australia to a friend in America … The boy is only 19 ! … I personaly would like to look into the eyes of the person at and when they feel the need to take this kids life … You have yet so far to go !

  2. The judge in this case was not wise, not compassionate, nor intelligent – did he himself not have the facts?

  3. I just think its so sad sum1 so young being put to death. Im so glad iblive in england as we dont belive in the death penalty.

  4. Stop the Execution of Anthony Haynes. Texas and their system of state murders will be judged one day but God will not execute them. They will rott in hell for this.

  5. i just pray and pray they will save Anthony 's life …..no fair trial ………his lawyer was knowing he was having a cancer and dont even have time to prepare his defense !!!!!!! dont forget also that Anthony is black and in Texas means a lot in front a white jury ….i just pray a great God today that this man will be save
    ved . i want again to see Anthony and his smile ……..

  6. When I look into the eyes of Anthony,my heart goes out to him.I pray that God saves his life. By no uncertain terms, I feel much sorrow for the police officer and his family, but taking the life of this boy will not bring him back. I work in a drug rehab and know the effects that drugs have on people. Sure there are lots of people that do drugs that dont react the way Anthony did…but not all drugs are the same nor is any one individual the same. The things that people cut dope with, as well as how prue the substance the boy took has alot to do with it. Than again some pople are chemically inbalanced… and drugs have a much more severe effect on them. Please save the boys life.

  7. This is terrible. I hate the idea that there are sloppy habeas corpus lawyers. However, Julia, please don't judge all Americans by the actions of this jury and judge. Many of us live in states where the death penalty does not exist and are actively campaigning to change the rest of the country.

  8. While i believe the death penalty should be brought back for repeat offenders who will rot in prison anyways, this boy doesn't deserve to die, he's still a kid for christs sake, a kid who took meth (a very dangerous substance) for the first time. I say he should get extensive drug therapy and firearms probation, but not the death penalty

  9. Millions of Americans oppose the death penalty, and thousands dedicate their lives to abolish it. Please keep this blog courteous and refrain from using generalizations.

  10. I HEREBY< AN ALMIGHTY LORD> PRAY THAT THUGS ARE RIDDEN FROM THIS EARTH AND THAT VICTIMS ARE PLACED AT THE FOREFRONT OF CONSIDERATION BY ALL SOCIETIES. PLEASE<AN EVERLASTING LORD> SHIP ALL OF THE MURDERERS FROM ALL OF THE DEATH ROWS IN THE US TO THE EUROPEANS WHO SO LONGINGLY ON THIS BLOG EXPRESS LOVE AND ADMIRATION FOR THEM. FINALLY<S/HE WHO GIVES LIFE TO ALL> MAKE SO THAT AIUSA BACKS UP ITS RHETORIC WITH FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO ALL DEATH ROW INMATES THE ORGANIZATION CELEBRATES, NONE OF WHOM RECEIVE ANY FINANCIAL OR LEGAL BACKING FROM THEM. AMEN. LOL….

  11. After failing to find relief in both state and federal courts for more than a decade, including a 456-page federal petition for a writ of habeas corpus filed in 2005, Haynes petitioned the court to reopen his federal habeas action citing an ineffective trial counsel. U.S. District Judge Sim Lake rejected that petition on October 3, 2012 and denied him a certificate of appealability. Haynes claimed relief under the recent Supreme Court decision Martinez v. Ryan. Lake also said that Haynes failed to show extraordinary circumstances under the law. "The court has already reviewed the merits of Haynes' Strickland claim in the alternative and found it to be without merit."

    Lake also noted that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals observed, on direct appeal, that Haynes confessed "to knowingly murdering a police officer after a violent crime spree." "Haynes admitted that he shot Sergeant Kincaid because he was a police officer and, showing no remorse, bragged to friends that he had killed a police officer. Haynes also told people that he should have killed Nancy Kincaid, so that there would have been no witness to the murder."

  12. This just in:
    A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 late Monday against an appeal from lawyers for condemned killer Anthony Haynes. Haynes faces lethal injection Thursday evening in Huntsville.

    In other words, he cannot have his appeal re-opened. Will SCOTUS intervene? I think not…
    http://www.myfoxhouston.com/story/19831711/texas-