Midland County Death Row Conviction Tossed Out After Inmate Was Denied a Fair Trial
Clinton Young was convicted of murder in Midland County in 2001, but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has decided he was denied the right to a fair trial and an impartial judge.
According to the Texas Tribune, the trial of Clinton Young was tossed out after it was discovered that one of the prosecutors on his case had worked for the judge on the case.
“Judicial and prosecutorial misconduct in the form of an undisclosed employment relationship between the trial judge and the prosecutor appearing before him tainted [Young’s] entire proceeding from the outset,” Texas’ highest criminal court ruled. “As a result, little confidence can be placed in the fairness of the proceedings or the outcome of applicant’s trial.”
The court ordered Clinton Young to be taken to the Midland County jail and removed from death row while prosecutors decide if they want to dismiss the charge or retry him.
Clinton Young was 18 when he was accused of being a part of a 2001 drug crime spree that involved the fatal shooting of two men and stealing their cars on opposite sides of the state.
Young claimed at trial that he was sleeping off a meth binge when Samuel Petrey was murdered in Midland, but another man involved in the crime spree, David Page, said that Young shot Petrey. Page took a plea deal and was given 30 years and charged with aggravated kidnapping.
District Attorney Laura Nodolf in 2019 discovered during a budgeting process that one of the prosecutors, Weldon Petty, had worked for the district judges including the judge presiding over the Clinton Young trial.
The court determined Petty helped prosecutors contest the appeals of Young's conviction and at the same time was being paid by the judge for legal work on Young's case.
Weldon Petty retired in 2019 and the judge that presided over the Young case died in 2012.