Court Stays Swearingen Execution, Finds Merit in Allegation of False Testimony

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has posted their reasons for granting a stay of execution in the matter of Larry Ray Swearingen.

But the key phrase strikes us as worth quoting: “but for the alleged constitutional error of the State sponsoring the false testimony of Dr. Carter, no reasonable juror could find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.”

In the words of the court:

At trial, [Harris County Medical Examiner] Dr. Carter testified that Trotter’s body had been left in the forest for approximately twenty-five days, which was consistent with the State’s theory that Swearingen murdered Trotter on
December 8, 1998, and left her body in the forest. In her affidavit, Dr. Carter does not address the correctness of her original testimony based on decomposition and fungal growth, but states that if she had been provided certain additional data, she would have testified that the findings of her autopsy
“are consistent with a date of exposure in the Sam Houston National Forest within fourteen days of discovery, and incompatible with exposure for a longer period of time.”

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