Late November 2001, five men drove from Ore City to Longview, Texas. Two of those men were best friends. The youngest man of the group, Clinton Young – 18 at the time – barely knew the others. Once in Longview, one man was shot. After that, two of the men parted company and the remaining two, amongst whom Clinton, drove out to Midland, where along the way another man joined. Later, south of Midland, this man was shot as well.
Arrested and charged with capital murder
Clinton Young was arrested while fleeing from police. He was later indicted by a grand jury for capital murder. Two co-defendants were held on murder charges and later pled guilty to lesser charges. The fourth involved man, who had by his own volition directed the police to one of the bodies, was never charged.
The prosecution’s case
The State’s case against Clinton Young relied primarily on the testimony of the three other involved men. The State maintained that Clinton was the driving force in the murders and kidnapping, and that the other’s involvement was the result of duress caused by Clinton Young. Clinton’s sole purpose over the course of the two murders, according to the State, was to travel to Midland to see his girlfriend.
The defense case
The defense case focused mainly on three problems with the State’s case:
- conflicting testimony of the three eyewitnesses;
- inconsistent ballistic evidence;
- signs of complicity among the three eyewitnesses who claimed to be threatened or held hostage by Clinton Young.
There are no fingerprints and there is no guilt relevant DNA linking Clinton to the murders.
One of the three involved initially told police Clinton fired all three shots at the first victim and then recanted when he learned the other witness had told police the third shot was fired by one of the other men involved.
Another of the three, re-enacted one of the murders on videotape, then reversed his staging of the scene when he learned the coroner’s report rendered his prior version implausible.
Also, there were numerous occasions on which one of the three, who claimed to be a hostage of Clinton, could have easily parted company. This co-defendant admitted to a detective that he had possession of the gun and keys to the vehicle while Clinton was inside a store. He also admitted to the police that Clinton was at times asleep.
Poor police investigation and lost evidence
The police failed to investigate important crime-scenes in this case. For example, the car that belonged to the first victim was never properly tested. Also the home, close to where the first shooting took place, and the area surrounding it, have not been investigated. No clerks or shoppers at the grocery store, where the second victim was allegedly kidnapped from, were interviewed by the police.
The gloves the co-defendant wore during the murders were never tested for gunshot residue. Clinton, in maintaining he didn’t kill anyone, requested the police to test his DNA and test the gloves of the co-defendant for gunshot residue. The gloves were eventually tested for DNA, but only on the outside.
On top of this, the State lost or destroyed evidence that was exculpatory in nature.
Plea deals, false testimonies and a biased judge
Clinton Young’s conviction for capital murder and his punishment of death were based upon suppressed evidence, that two of the involved were given secret plea deals and upon knowingly presented perjured testimony. Furthermore, the judge who presided over Clinton’s trial, motion for new trial and State post-conviction proceeding, was not impartial.
The ballistic research that was done on the first shooting, when matched with the autopsy report, shows that Clinton was not and could not have been the shooter. However, these ballistic reports were not admitted into evidence in Clinton’s case.
Ineffective assistance of counsel
The defense investigator, who worked on Clinton’s case until 2005 and was hired by Clinton’s habeas counsel, was emotionally unstable, abusing drugs and obtained false declarations. By appointing incompetent counsel and not adopting proper standards to evaluate counsel’s competency, the court denied Clinton his opportunity to properly challenge his conviction and sentence.
Statements by fellow inmates of co-defendants
There are statements by several people that were held in custody with the co-defendant and who came forward concerning the co-defendant talking (bragging) about being the actual killer in this case and getting away with murder, even admitting that Clinton was asleep during one of the murders.
Failed polygraph by co-defendant
The co-defendant and prosecution’s star witness, who was the actual killer, was asked to take a polygraph examination by the prosecution in Clinton’s case. He failed this polygraph. The examiner that took the polygraph was allowed to testify in court in Clinton’s case, but only outside of the jury’s presence. The prosecutors never offered Clinton an opportunity to take a polygraph examination.
It is clear that the prosecution in Clinton’s case intentionally prevented Clinton from putting forth a proper defense. Also, others that were supposed to work for or represent Clinton, have repeatedly failed him. Clinton did not receive any kind of fair trial or even a fair appeal.
You can download a PDF with more information about his case here, or read it below.