Texas woman wins death sentence appeal

Nov. 3, 2011 at 1:27 AM
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FORT WORTH, Texas, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- A Texas woman convicted of helping her boyfriend kill his parents won an appeal of her death sentence Wednesday that appears likely to spare her from execution.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled that Chelsea Richardson must get a new sentencing hearing, the Los Angeles Times reported. But her lawyer, Robert Ford, said Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon has agreed to a life sentence.

The court found that Shannon's predecessor, Michael Parrish, withheld evidence from the defense during the punishment phase of Richardson's 2005 trial.

Shannon, in a statement, said the death penalty should not be used "when there is even an appearance of impropriety on the part of a prosecutor who formerly worked in this office."

Richardson and Andrew Wamsley were convicted of the capital murder of Rick and Suzanna Wamsley of Mansfield, Texas, so their son could inherit more than $1 million. The couple were shot and stabbed in 2003.

Wamsley got a life sentence, while Susana Toledano, Richardson's roommate, pleaded guilty and got life with parole eligibility in 30 years.

Parrish testified he was privately censured for his conduct, Ford told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. But Ford told the Times an open investigation is needed.

"It ought to be addressed so it doesn't happen again," Ford said. "This guy in my opinion is a criminal and we need a special prosecutor to look into it."

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