Paul Storey was sentenced to death by the State of Texas for a robbery murder. According to court documents Paul Storey and Mark Porter would rob a miniature golf course killing Jonas Cherry in the process. Paul Storey would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
Paul Storey 2021 Information
|Name||Storey, Paul David|
|Date of Birth||10/01/1984|
|Age (when Received)||24|
|Education Level (Highest Grade Completed)||12th Grade|
|Date of Offense||10/16/2006|
|Age (at the time of Offense)||21|
|Height (in Feet and Inches)||6′ 0″|
|Weight (in Pounds)||230|
Paul Storey More News
Lawyers for death row inmate Paul Storey, admitting they are seeking an “extraordinary decision in this extraordinary case,” are asking the state’s highest criminal court to take another look at a rejected appeal that claims a prosecutor lied to Storey’s jury.
The defense lawyers argue that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals should not have dismissed the appeal on Oct. 2 by blaming the actions of a lawyer who previously represented Storey but has since died and is unable to defend himself.
That 6-3 ruling, the petition argued, “imposes a burden unlike anything this Court has ever demanded of the State or defense — proof directly from beyond the grave.”
“Short of a seance, this new burden is one that can never be met,” said the petition, filed late Wednesday.
The problem for Storey, however, is that there is no process in place for appealing the earlier ruling, which is why defense lawyers framed the petition as a “suggestion for reconsideration on the court’s own initiative.”
It is, admittedly, a long-shot bid for a man who was sentenced to death in the shooting death of Jonas Cherry, the manager of a miniature golf course in the Fort Worth suburb of Hurst, during a 2006 robbery.
But Storey’s appellate lawyers, Mike Ware of Fort Worth and Keith Hampton of Austin, argue that the stakes are high, not only for their client but for the proper administration of justice.
“A death penalty verdict should not be based on a lie, and it was in this case,” Ware told the American-Statesman.
Storey, now 35, was five days from execution in April 2017 when the Court of Criminal Appeals returned his case to Fort Worth and ordered the trial judge to examine defense claims that a prosecutor lied to jurors during the trial’s sentencing phase by claiming that the victim’s entire family favored a death sentence for Storey.
In reality, Cherry’s parents have long opposed the death penalty and told prosecutors they did not want Storey put to death for the crime, court records show.
During three days of hearings in fall 2017, prosecutors testified that they told Storey’s trial lawyers about the parents’ views, although there is no record of such an exchange and defense lawyers denied it happened. Prosecutors also said Cherry’s father offered to testify in favor of a death sentence during Storey’s punishment phase — a conversation the father denied having during one of the hearings.
Visiting state District Judge Everett Young rejected the prosecutors’ testimony, saying it lacked credibility, and recommended that the Court of Criminal Appeals toss out Storey’s death sentence and order a new punishment phase trial, keeping his capital murder conviction intact.
Young made three key findings:
• Prosecutors violated their duty to disclose favorable evidence to Storey’s trial lawyers by withholding information that the victim’s parents opposed a death sentence, which can be powerful mitigating evidence for jurors deliberating a capital punishment case.
• A prosecutor introduced false evidence during closing arguments by saying the victim’s entire family favored a death sentence, information that jurors would find hard to ignore.
• Prosecutors continued to hide the information during Storey’s appeals.
The decision rested on a state law that gives death row inmates only one chance to appeal the constitutionality of their conviction and sentence, although additional appeals are allowed if new evidence turns up that was not available earlier.
The arguments surrounding the parents’ death penalty opinions were included in a second appeal by Storey — but not in his original appeal filed in 2011 by lawyer Bob Ford, who has since died.
Had Ford been “reasonably diligent” in preparing the first appeal, he could have discovered the misstatement by prosecutors years ago, the six judges ruled. Because that information was available for the first appeal, the majority dismissed the latest appeal without considering the new arguments.
The majority rejected conclusions reached by the district judge, who devoted several pages of findings to explain why he believed Ford, consistently described as an exceptional and tenacious lawyer, acted properly in preparing Storey’s first appeal.
Storey’s current lawyers are asking the appeals court judges to reconsider their opinion, arguing that it created an impossible standard.
“The overwhelming and uncontradicted circumstantial evidence that Bob Ford was unaware of the Cherrys’ opposition is insufficient. Counsel must now directly prove a negative — lack of knowledge — from the testimony from a deceased attorney,” they wrote to the court.
Defense lawyers also filed a second suggestion that asked the appeals court to take another look at Storey’s case to address an unrelated issue.
Lawyers Ware and Hampton said they recently discovered that case records forwarded to the appeals court included briefs filed by prosecutors but not defense lawyers. For a court that prides itself on a thorough review of the case record, having a “one-sided presentation of argument” should be troubling, they wrote.
“This Court should at least have the whole record and all the arguments before dismissing a trial court’s findings, conclusions and recommendations,” they wrote.
No execution date has been set for Storey, and the appeals court has no deadline to act on either suggestion