Brit denied execution appeal before US Supreme Court

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The US Supreme Court refused Monday to hear the appeal of a St Kitts-born grandmother languishing on death row in Texas since 2002, after being convicted of masterminding a kidnap and murder.

The nine justices did not give further explanation for the denial.

Born on the Caribbean island before it gained independence from Britain, Linda Carty -- a holder of a UK dependent territory passport -- worked as an informant for the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) in Houston, Texas for many years before her arrest.

Carty, 51, was accused of planning the May 2001 kidnapping and murder of her neighbor, Joana Rodriguez, who suffocated after being abducted by three men and put in the trunk of their car.

Prosecutors alleged that Carty organized the kidnapping to steal Rodriguez's four-day-old son, who was abducted with his mother but later found unharmed.

Her appeal team insisted to the court that the men responsible framed her because of her informant work, and that she was sentenced to death solely on the men's testimony, without material evidence tying her to the case.

They also argued that the three men received lighter sentences in return for their testimony against her.

The Supreme Court was petitioned to probe the poor police investigation that led to her death sentence and her lackluster court-appointed attorney who failed to properly make her case to the jury.

Her original defense also failed to urge consular assistance from British authorities, which could have helped her avoid the execution sentence, her appeal said.

"This death penalty case is unique because the deficiency of trial counsel's performance is uncontested," Carty's lawyers told the court Monday.

"Even the state admitted when questioned about counsel's failure to contact Carty's husband: 'It was an oversight and we certainly don't defend that,'" they said.

The case has been highlighted by legal charity Reprieve, which also argues that Carty received inadequate legal advice from her court-appointed lawyer.

In September 2009, Carty pleaded her innocence in a recording broadcast in London's Trafalgar Square, using an art project to make a final cry for help.

"I wasn't convicted and sentenced to death because I'm guilty. I was convicted and sentenced to death because I had a terrible lawyer," Carty said.

© 2010 AFP

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