Texas Woman May be Spared Death Penalty Because of Prosecutorial Misconduct

Chelsea Richardson (pictured), the first woman in Tarrant County, Texas, to be sentenced to death, may soon be serving a life sentence instead. Six years after her conviction, Tarrant County District Attorney Joe Shannon agreed with Richardson’s appellate attorney that the prosecutor at her trial withheld evidence that could have affected the jury’s sentence. This development would mark the second time in three years that the outcome of a death penalty case was changed due to misconduct by former prosecutor Mike Parrish. D.A. Shannon said, “This office will not be a party to the infliction of death as a punishment
when there is even an appearance of impropriety on the part of a prosecutor who formerly worked in this office. If the death penalty is to be used, it must be obtained legally, fairly and honestly and without the hint of a possible injustice.” In Richardson’s case, Parrish withheld a psychologist’s notes from the defense team. Richardson was sentenced to death for being the mastermind behind the murders of her boyfriend’s parents. Her co-conspirators both received life sentences. The psychologist’s notes could have convinced jurors that one of the co-defendants was most responsible for the crime.

(M. McDonald, “Death sentence will likely change for woman in Mansfield slayings,” Fort Worth Star-Telegram, June 1, 2011). See Prosecutorial Misconduct and Arbitrariness.