Sunday, March 05, 2006

Anibal Garcia Rousseau - Did an innocent man just die on Texas Death Row?

Anibal Garcia Rousseau, #942 on Texas's death row for the past 15 years and 3 months, died this morning at 1:45 of complications of Hepatitis C.

An article in The Houston Chronicle from May 30, 2005 said that

Three of the 12 Harris County jurors who sentenced Anibal Rousseau to death 16 years ago say they would not have voted to convict him if they had known about ballistics evidence that supports his claim of innocence.

But the evidence, processed by the Houston Police Department firearms lab, was never made available to the defense by police or prosecutors, who included current District Attorney Chuck Rosenthal.

The three jurors expressed dismay that Rousseau is still in prison and has yet to receive a new trial, four years after defense attorneys first discovered the evidence during the appeal process.

"Oh, that's unbelievable," said Karl Holdaway, a 67-year-old former Marine. "I thought Anibal would have been released by now."

If the jury had known about the ballistics evidence, he added, "there would have been no conviction."

Larry Youngblood, 55, an "ultraconservative" who also served on the jury, had a similar reaction: "I thought it would be over with by now. If an execution date is ever set, I'll be climbing the walls of (the prison), because I am totally convinced he didn't do it."

Another juror, chemical plant worker Barry Carlblom, said the evidence "definitely would have had a bearing on my decision."

"I would think it would be automatic that they would have a retrial," said Carlblom, 60.

A fourth member of the jury said he at least would have wanted to know about the ballistics evidence during the trial, even if it didn't change his mind about Rousseau's guilt.

"It sounds like it could have been important," said Bert Rosenbaum, 52, who works for an investment company.

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