FORT WORTH, Texas – The state's highest criminal court on Wednesday overturned a death row inmate's conviction in the 1985 bombing deaths of three family members on Thanksgiving.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld a lower court's October ruling that the lead prosecutor withheld evidence during Michael Roy Toney's 1999 trial.
Tarrant County District Attorney Tim Curry will decide in a few days whether to try Toney again after prosecutors review the case evidence, said Chuck Mallin, chief of the office's appellate division. Prosecutors still believe Toney committed the crime, he said, but the office did not dispute that evidence had been withheld during the trial.
Toney will return to jail in Fort Worth and bond will be set, Mallin said.
On Thanksgiving night 1985, 15-year-old Angela Blount found a suitcase on the porch of the family's Lake Worth trailer, took it inside and opened it. A bomb exploded and killed her, her father Joe Blount, 44, and her cousin Michael Columbus, 18. Her 14-year-old brother and mother survived the blast.
The case remained unsolved until 1997, when a jail inmate hoped to gain his release by telling authorities that fellow inmate Toney had claimed responsibility for the bombing. Toney later testified that he concocted the story to help get the inmate released.
He testified he learned about the bombing previously from another inmate who had lived with Angela Blount's former boyfriend, who had been a suspect before authorities cleared him, court records show.
In appealing the conviction, Toney's attorneys argued that the lead prosecutor withheld more than a dozen pieces of evidence, including inconsistent statements by witnesses.