New evidence surfaces in bombing case
By MAX B. BAKER
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
Six years ago, Texas Death Row inmate Michael Toney made headlines when he tried to sell seats to his execution over the Internet.
But now Toney, convicted of blowing up three people in Lake Worth on Thanksgiving Day in 1985, may create another stir as he tries to avoid the death chamber for one of North Texas’ most notorious crimes.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals recently ruled that new evidence — including reports from the federal bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives discrediting the prosecution’s key witnesses — is sufficient to support Toney’s innocence claim and warrants another review by state District Judge Everett Young.
The Tarrant County district attorney’s office says that some of the claims have been made in previous appeals. But a defense attorney representing Toney says he is convinced that Toney is innocent.
“It’s one of the most egregious cases I’ve seen,” said Jared Tyler, an attorney with the Texas Innocence Network. “For me, there is not a shred of evidence that he did it.”
Toney, 40, was sentenced to death in 1999 for the briefcase bombing that killed Angela Blount, 15; her father, Joe Blount, 44; and her cousin Michael Columbus, 18.
The case had gone unsolved for a decade until Toney, who was in jail for another offense, told another inmate that he was hired to put the briefcase bomb at the mobile home. Investigators later presented evidence showing that Toney — who they said was to be paid $5,000 for the bombing — put it at the wrong trailer.
Toney always proclaimed his innocence and his efforts in 2000 to sell seats to his future execution to the highest bidder was part of a publicity stunt to attract attention to his case. The state forbade him to sell the seats.
Nicknamed “Cowboy,” Toney is a prolific e-mail correspondent, writing regularly not only to reporters but also to members of the jury that convicted him. He also has a Web site on which he proclaims his innocence.
“Lies got me sentenced to death for a crime I did not commit,” Toney writes on his Web site. “Since the charade of a Texas trial people have came forward and told me who killed the Blounts and why they did it.”
Tarrant County Assistant District Attorney Debra Windsor, who will defend her office in court, says the way the case is being presented by the defense attorneys involves more than questions about Toney’s innocence.
“It is actually an attack on this office,” she said.
Read the article online at Star-Telegram's website.