AUSTIN (KXAN) - A Travis County woman who was just days away from being executed for killing a baby in 1994 was granted a new trial on Wednesday by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
The state's highest criminal court deferred to opinion of the trial judge that scientific evidence that came to light after Cathy Lynn Henderson, now 55, was convicted of killing Brandon Baugh while babysitting at the boy's home in Pflugerville.
In an evidentiary hearing after the conviction, Dr. Roberto Bayardo said recent developments in the study ofbiomechanics suggested that the baby could have died from head injuries suffered in a accidental fall rather than from a deliberate blow.
"The trial court concluded that applicant has proven by clear and convincing evidence that no reasonable juror would have convicted her of capital murder in light of her new evidence," the appeals court said in an unsigned opinion.
District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg said she supports the appeals court's decision, but did not say whether the death penalty would be on the table in a new trial.
"I believe justice requires that a new jury hear the case, which was the position I took with the appellate court," she said. "We will try the case again. I will review all the evidence at the trial and at the subsequent hearings to determine whether the State will again seek the death penalty."
In 2007, Henderson was only two days away from her scheduled execution when the Court of Criminal Appeals granted her a reprieve and ordered the lower court to hear arguments in her appeal.
Henderson, who is one of 10 women on Death Row in Texas, has always maintained the death was an accident. She said she panicked, packed Brandon's body in a wine cooler box and buried him in a shallow grave 60 miles away. Henderson then left Texas before being apprehended in Missouri under an assumed name.
Brandon's father told KXAN in May that they still believe their son was murdered on Jan. 21, 1994.
"This is so not fair. It should have been over with a long time ago," said Brandon's father, Eryn Baugh. "It's something that you just cannot imagine the amount of pain, anger and frustration for having to live through this experience day in and day out without a resolution."
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