An evidentiary hearing granted to Clinton Young by The 385th District Court in Midland. TX, on April 24th of this year has been delayed.
The upcoming hearing, which centres on whether testimony provided by David Page at Young’s trial was false, will likely be delayed for a matter of months.
News from the Clinton Young Foundation via their Facebook page, provided a message from Young himself, “The hearing will be awhile away, due to a witness having surgery. Nothing will be planned for a couple months.”
Young’s hearing, granted under the conditions that it was, ‘[w]ithin the meaning of ex parte chabot‘ will determine whether Young was denied due process as a result of Page’s testimony.
Similarities between Young’s and Chabot’s cases potentially offer hope to Young, who was sentenced to death for the murders of Douglas Doyle, and Samuel Petrey in November of 2001.
Clay Reed Chabot was convicted of the 1986 murder of Galua Crosby in her home of Garland, Dallas, TX. During his subsequent trial, the State of Texas proffered trial testimony from Chabot’s brother-in-law Gerald Pabst that would lead to Chabot’s conviction. DNA findings, some twenty-one-years-later would see Chabot granted a new trial in 2007, and would in turn point the finger at Pabst in connection with the rape.
During Chabot’s trial, Pabst—the state’s chief witness—was found to have given perjured testimony after DNA testing on a vaginal swab came back excluding Chabot, yet linking Pabst to the crime.
While DNA findings afforded Chabot the relief of a new trial, Young’s appeal—if successful—will potentially offer relief, but that of a different nature.
Page’s changing recollection of events preceding Petrey’s murder are of significance to Young in relation to the aggravating factor needed under Texas law to evoke the death-penalty. In Young’s case, that aggravating factor in relation to Petrey, was his kidnapping.
Texas Penal Code Sec. 19.03.02. Capital Murder
The person intentionally commits the murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping, burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or retaliation, or terroristic threat under Section 22.07(a)(1), (3), (4), (5), or (6)
During trial, Page testified to a number of events that he has since recanted via an Oct. 4th interview with Midland County District Attorney Laura Nodolf. Of note these included: Young’s carjacking and subsequent kidnapping of Samuel Petrey, along with Young’s suggestion as to cutting Petrey’s throat. Page’s testimony that gloves found at the scene and laden with gunshot residue—also including Page’s DNA on their interior—were purchased before the crime[s] and used as ‘gardening gloves,’ and the notion that Page’s testimony during trial was non-incentivized.
Along with citing Page’s October 4th interview, Young’s attorneys will potentially offer testimony from John Hutchinson and James Kemp, both of whom claim Page confessed to the shooting of Petrey. Both were due to testify to such at a postconviction hearing for Young in 2010, yet neither did. Hutchinson and Kemp were both inmates at the time of Young’s hearing, and reasons for their failure to testify centred around intimidation by prosecution investigators shortly before they were due to take the stand.
While the credibility of ‘jailhouse informants’ and their revelations will often be viewed with doubtful eyes, revelations from the man that was unquestionably with Young during the murder of Petrey will likely be seen with more trusting ones. Indeed, shortly before Page’s latest documented interview on Oct. 4th of last year, Dutch filmmaker Jessica Villerius spoke with Page for her documentary on Young, ‘Deal with Death.’
*Abridged section of interview between Jessica Villerius [JV] & David Page [DV]
JV: What did you think after you helped the DA? [District-Attorney]
DP: I figured they’d kinda help me, I figured they would give me a lesser sentence.
JV: So they offered you a plea deal?
DP: Yes mam.
JV: For how many years?
DP: I think it was either like 60, or 65.
JV: So at first they offered you 60?.. [a]nd then at one point they offered you 30 [years] right?
DP: Yes mam.
Further witnesses at Young’s hearing are likely to include gunshot residue experts from both the defence and state. Whether Dr. Christopher Palenik’s—GSR expert for Young—report on gun shot residue deposited on gloves found at the Petrey crime scene is taken as given by the trial court is debatable. However, as part of a cumulative array of evidence suggesting that Page testified falsely at Young’s trial, Palenik’s scientific opinion should add weight to an already burgeoning list countering Page’s original testimony.
As Young’s journey nears a potential crossroads, what of Clay Reed Chabot, and his story?
Chabot’s brother-in-law Gerald Pabst was convicted of capital murder in 2008 by a jury taking less than 30 minutes to make its decision. Pabst was sentenced to life in prison, a decision supported by state prosecutors who asserted during their closing arguments that Pabst’s 1986 story didn’t match the scientific evidence available some 22 years later.
Chabot himself was due for retrial in 2010, yet his case would fail to re-materialise. On the eve of his trial Chabot pleaded guilty. In ‘exchange’ for Chabot’s 22 years of incarceration, freedom was offered for his plea.
While some will argue that justice was duly served, many will argue that Chabot took the only reasonable avenue offered to him. In a plausible case of, ‘once bitten, twice shy,’ was Chabot honestly expected to assume that an even playing field would be afforded to him at the second time of asking?
Although Young’s case bares many similarities to that of Chabot’s, his conviction is first and foremost rooted at the Polunsky Unit in Livingstone, Texas. Young’s death sentence, although stayed, looms forever large.
While many will begrudge the delay in Young’s hearing, it is important to keep perspective. Young’s hearing offers the hope that his death sentence will be commuted to something of a more tangible nature in terms of time. In a sad indictment of the times, Young’s story—albeit a long way off—could end in a similar way to that of Chabot’s.
While the definition of justice often need not apply to the US legal system, the term deal most certainly does. And whether it be at the beginning, middle, or end of any chosen case, there always has been, and likely always will be a place for such.
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