Odell Barnes, Jr.

Executed March 1, 2000 by Lethal Injection in Texas


19th murderer executed in U.S. in 2000
617th murderer executed in U.S. since 1976
10th murderer executed in Texas in 2000
209th murderer executed in Texas since 1976


Since 1976
Date of Execution
State
Method
Murderer
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder-Execution)
Date of
Birth
Victim(s)
(Race/Sex/Age at Murder)
Date of
Murder
Method of
Murder
Relationship
to Murderer
Date of
Sentence
617
03-01-00
TX
Lethal Injection
Odell Barnes, Jr.

B / M / 21 - 31

03-22-68
Helen Bass

W / F / 44

11-30-89
Beaten
with lamp, Handgun
None
05-14-91

Summary:
On Nov. 30, 1989, the body of 44 year old Helen Bass was discovered in her home by a neighbor. The back door had been forcibly kicked in. The home was ransacked. Bass was found naked, bloodied, and beaten in her bedroom. She died from a .32-caliber gunshot wound to the head. Aside from the gunshot wound, Bass had been stabbed twice, struck with a .22-caliber rifle, and struck in the head with a blunt object. She had also been sexually assaulted. A knife covered with blood was discovered in Bass's kitchen. A bloody lamp with a dent in the base was found in Bass's bedroom, along with a .22-caliber rifle that had been broken in half. Willie Bass had purchased a .32-caliber handgun for his mother and showed her how to use it on November 29th, suggesting that she keep the gun in her bedroom. The gun was not found at the scene of the murder. At approximately 10:30 p.m. on November 29th, a neighbor saw Barnes in Bass's yard. Barnes hurdled Bass's wooden fence, fell down, and rolled into the street. After work on Nov. 30th, Humphrey, Barnes, and Joseph Barnes (Barnes's brother), stopped by the Barnes's home. Barnes stated he had confiscated" a gun from his father and wished to sell it. Barnes went to his bedroom, retrieved the gun from under his bed, and gave it to Humphrey. That gun had been stolen from Bass and was later turned over to the police. Barnes's fingerprint was discovered on the lamp. DNA testing during habeas proceedings in 1998 on a washcloth found at the crime scene and the vaginal swab taken from the victim, positively identified Barnes. Following the DNA test, Barnes for the first time said he knew the woman, had been in her house previously and that the couple had sex more than a day earlier, accounting for the presence of his semen. He said he could have left his fingerprint on the lamp during his earlier visits.

Citations:

Internet Sources:

Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Texas Department of Criminal Justice - Executed Offenders (Odell Barnes, Jr.)

Texas Attorney General Media Advisory

MEDIA ADVISORY: ODELL BARNES, JR. SCHEDULED TO BE EXECUTED.

AUSTIN - Monday, February 28, 2000 - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn offers the following information on Odell Barnes Jr. who is scheduled to be executed after 6 p.m., Wednesday, March 1st:

FACTS OF THE CRIME

On Nov. 29, 1989, Helen Bass returned to her home in Wichita Falls, Texas, at approximately 11:30 p.m. The next day, Mary Barnes, a friend of Bass's, went to Bass's home to pick her up for work. No one answered the door. After arriving at work, Mary Barnes became concerned and telephoned Sharon Mergerson, Bass's neighbor and ex-sister-in-law, to check on her. Mergerson immediately went to Bass's home. Upon arrival, she noticed a back door had been forcibly kicked in. Subsequently she found Bass's body inside the home. Mergerson telephoned the police.

Bass's bedroom was found in disarray. Dresser drawers had been moved and some pulled out. The contents of two purses had been dumped out onto the bed. Bass' checkbook was on the floor. A coin purse was found open. A jewelry box was open and appeared to have been gone through. An identification card and personal papers belonging to Bass were found outside her home near her chain-link fence. Approximately $200 cash was found in the home.

Bass was found naked, bloodied, and beaten in her bedroom. She died from a .32-caliber gunshot wound to the head. Time of death was estimated to be in the early morning hours of Nov. 30th. Bass was 44 years old at the time of her death. Aside from the gunshot wound, Bass had been stabbed twice, struck with a .22-caliber rifle, and struck in the head with a blunt object. A knife covered with blood was discovered in Bass's kitchen. A bloody lamp with a dent in the base was found in Bass's bedroom, along with a .22-caliber rifle that had been broken in half.

Willie Bass Jr., Bass's son, had purchased a .32-caliber handgun for Bass in April 1988. The purchase receipt for the gun lists the serial number as NB003602. Malrie Wilson, a friend of Bass's, saw the gun in Bass's possession on the morning of Nov. 29th. Wilson had shown Bass how to load the weapon and was attempting to familiarize her with it on Monday, Nov. 27th, and Wednesday, Nov. 29th. The gun was fully loaded at that time. Wilson had suggested Bass keep the gun in her bedroom. The gun was not found at the scene of the murder.

Johnny Ray Humphrey was a co-worker of Odell Barnes Jr. (hereafter "Barnes"). Barnes is one of Mary Barnes's sons. Humphrey had been with Barnes at approximately 10:00 p.m. on Nov. 29th, when he dropped Barnes off near his home. At approximately 10:30 p.m., Roger Brooks, a neighbor, saw Barnes in Bass's yard. Barnes hurdled Bass's wooden fence, fell down, and rolled into the street. Barnes then got up and went back over Bass's chain-link fence. Bass had both a wooden and a chain-link fence on different parts of her property. Brooks testified that Barnes was wearing dark green or blue coveralls and a stocking cap. Later, between 2:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m. on Nov. 30th, Patrick Williams saw Barnes with a gun and wearing coveralls at an apartment complex located near Bass's home.

After work on Nov. 30th, Humphrey, Barnes, and Joseph Barnes (Barnes's brother), stopped by the Barnes's home. Barnes stated he had "confiscated" a gun from his father and wished to sell it. Barnes went to his bedroom, retrieved the gun from under his bed, and gave it to Humphrey. Humphrey later sold the gun to Williams. When he learned of the murder, Williams returned the gun to Humphrey's sister, Deborah Ann. Deborah Ann then turned the gun over to the police. The gun bears the same serial number as that purchased by Willie Bass for his mother in April 1988. Humphrey identified this gun as the same one he had obtained from Barnes, and Williams also identified the gun as the same one he had bought from Humphrey on the afternoon of Nov. 30th and the same one he had seen Barnes with earlier the same day. Williams further stated that a bullet was missing from the gun when he purchased it.

The police recovered dark green coveralls from Joseph Barnes's car. Joseph told the officers that the coveralls belonged to Barnes. Joseph testified that he believed the coveralls actually belonged to his father, but that Barnes "wore them all the time." Humphrey testified that the coveralls were the same coveralls he had seen Barnes wearing on the evening of Nov. 29th. Blood stains on the coveralls were determined to be type O blood, which was the same as Bass's. Barnes has type A blood. The blood on the coveralls had additional genetic markers consistent with Bass's blood.

Larry Fletcher, a firearms examiner, testified the bullet removed from Bass's head was the same type that would be fired from the .32-caliber revolver recovered by the police. When comparing the fatal bullet to a test bullet fired from the revolver, Fletcher could not make a positive determination whether or not the fatal bullet was fired from this exact pistol due to the damage that the fatal bullet had sustained on impact with Bass. However, there were consistencies between the test bullet and the one removed from Bass. Dr. Jeffrey Barnard, Chief Medical Examiner of Dallas County, performed the autopsy. Barnard testified that Bass's injuries were consistent with having been caused by the handgun, lamp, broken rifle, and knife recovered by the police. A rape examination was also performed. Sperm was found, but the quantity was insufficient to determine the characteristics of the donor.

James Cron, a fingerprint and footprint expert, testified that Barnes's fingerprint appeared on the lamp. Further, he stated that the shoeprint pattern found on the back of Bass' checkbook matched the shoe pattern on Barnes' shoes. Cron admitted, however, that millions of shoes with that pattern have been produced. During federal court proceedings in 1998, the State conducted DNA testing of the State's evidence, including a washcloth found at the crime scene and the vaginal swab taken from the victim. The frequency of the genetic typing excluded 54 billion persons as having the DNA qualities as samples obtained from Barnes, the washcloth, and the vaginal swab, with each sample having the same characteristics.

PROCEDURAL HISTORY In Jan. 1990, Barnes was indicted in Wichita County, Texas, for the capital murder of Helen Bass. In Mar. 1991, a re-indictment was returned in Wichita County, Texas, charging Barnes with the capital offense of the murder of Helen Bass while in the course of committing and attempting to commit the offenses of burglary of a habitation, robbery, and aggravated sexual assault. Barnes was tried on a change of venue in Lubbock County, Texas, where he entered a plea of not guilty to a jury. On May 6, 1991, the jury found him guilty of capital murder. After a separate hearing on punishment, the jury returned affirmative answers to the punishment issues submitted and in accordance with state law, the trial court assessed punishment at death.

Because Barnes was sentenced to death, appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals was automatic. The Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction and sentence on Feb. 9, 1994. The United States Supreme Court denied certiorari review on Oct. 3, 1994. Barnes then filed an application for habeas corpus relief with the convicting court on April 15, 1997. The trial court recommended that relief be denied, and the Court of Criminal Appeals agreed on Nov. 26, 1997.

On Dec. 18, 1997, Barnes filed a petition for federal habeas corpus relief in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Wichita Falls Division. The case was transferred to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Lubbock Division, and that court denied relief on June 15, 1998. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit denied Barnes permission to appeal on June 15, 1999, and the United States Supreme Court denied certiorari review on Nov. 1, 1999. On Jan. 24, 2000, Barnes filed a second application for state writ of habeas corpus with the convicting court. On Feb. 16, 2000, the Court of Criminal Appeals dismissed that application under state law as an abuse of the writ. A clemency petition is pending with the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

PRIOR CRIMINAL HISTORY

At the punishment phase of trial, the State introduced evidence of various extraneous offenses that Barnes had committed. Barnes was convicted of the following: (1) in Feb. 1987, Barnes broke into a home, hit the female resident over the head with an iron, threatened her with a gun, threatened to kill her daughter, sexually assaulted her, robbed her, and stole her car; (2) on May 18, 1987, Barnes, using a gun to threaten the employees, robbed a Golden Fried Chicken restaurant; (3) three days later on May 21, 1987, Barnes, again using a gun, robbed a McDonald's restaurant; and (4) on Jan. 20, 1988, while on probation for the previous offenses, Barnes kicked in the back door of a Domino's Pizza then, using what was later determined to be a toy gun, robbed, threatened, and tied up store employees. In each of these instances, Barnes threatened to kill his victims if they did not cooperate with him. On Nov. 15, 1989, in an unadjudicated offense, Barnes attempted to choke and sexually assault an acquaintance who was nine months pregnant at the time. Barnes threatened to kill her if she would not stop screaming. The woman managed to get away.

DRUGS AND/OR ALCOHOL - No evidence was presented at trial that drug or alcohol was connected to the crime.

ProDeathPenalty.com

Odell Barnes was 21 when he robbed, raped and murdered Helen Bass. Helen was in her home when she was beaten with a lamp and a rifle, stabbed in the neck and then shot in the head. Her nude body was found on her bed, where she had been sexually assaulted prior to her death. Barnes stole a pistol and an unknown amount of money from Helen's home and was later seen trying to sell the stolen pistol to several people.

The Nov. 29, 1989 slaying occurred 3 weeks after Barnes was paroled after serving 19 months of a 10-year prison term for robbery. Earlier, he had been paroled after serving only 3 months of an 8-year sentence for robbery. The paroles came during a period when Texas had too many inmates and not enough prisons and state officials were forced to release inmates to comply with federal court orders governing prison crowding.

Barnes and his supporters contended his trial was botched, too hasty and based on fabricated evidence. "That's a farce," Wichita County District Attorney Barry Macha, who prosecuted Barnes, said this week. "The evidence in this case is compelling. It's actually gotten better since the trial. The DNA techniques were not as good then as they are now... The DNA evidence is absolutely conclusive. He is a dangerous and violent individual. And very appropriately, the jury concluded he would be a continuing threat to our society. What's been overlooked in this case is this individual's record." Witnesses said they saw Barnes jumping over the fence around the woman's house and with a gun later in the night and that he was wearing coveralls. Coveralls taken from Barnes' brother's car, and identified as always worn by Barnes, had blood stains that matched the blood of the victim. A ballistics expert testified a gun linked to Barnes could not be positively identified as the murder weapon also a bullet fired from the weapon showed some consistencies with the bullet recovered from the victim. Barnes' fingerprint was found on a lamp that was used to beat the victim.

Barnes said he knew the woman, had been in her house previously and that the couple had sex more than a day earlier, accounting for the presence of his semen. He said he could have left his fingerprint on the lamp during his earlier visits. Barnes never claimed that he had a sexual relationship with Bass until two years ago, after DNA tests proved the semen was his, Macha said. "This is probably the thing that bothers me the most, and it's just outrageous," Macha said. "This is the second violation of Helen Bass, the second time he's raped her. Before two years ago, he said he worked for her, and that's why his fingerprints were in her house. Now he says they were lovers. That's disgusting. He's still victimizing Helen Bass and the Bass family."

MOratorium Now!

Odell Barnes, Jr. (Texas)

On March 1, 2000, the State of Texas, with acquiescence by the federal government, executed Odell Barnes by lethal injection. The state and federal governments failed to ensure Barnes's right to a fair and impartial trial. The unfair trial resulted in Barnes's execution.

Crime

Helen Bass was murdered on November 30, 1989. She had been shot, bludgeoned, and stabbed. She was found face down on her bed, nude. A rifle butt was found in her room and a kitchen knife covered in blood was found on the floor just inside the door to her house. The room was in shambles. Her jewelry box and two purses appeared to have been dumped and scattered. Other belongings were discovered near a fence outside her house. Barnes was arrested, tried, and convicted for the murder.

Salient Issues

The original defense attorneys appointed by the state failed to investigate, and thus failed to discover and present evidence of Barnes's innocence. - The original defense attorneys failed to have evidence that was used to convict Barnes tested by defense experts. - Counsel who took over the case for federal appeals sought analysis of the crime scene, fingerprint identification, DNA testing, and additional time to conduct a factual investigation. All these requests were denied. - Counsel in federal appeals nonetheless carried out independently funded investigations that yielded substantial evidence that raised doubts about Barnes's guilt. - Blood on Barnes's coveralls, part of the evidence used to secure his conviction, contained a preservative found in test tubes used to store blood. The expert opinion of the chemist, hired by the defense, was that it did not come from "original, legitimate crime scene evidence . . . deriving from natural bleeding from a normal human being." - The primary eyewitness and his sister saw a man jump a fence near the crime scene one and one-half hours before the victim returned home. The witness told his sister that the man was not Barnes, but testified at trial that it was Barnes. - The two main witnesses for the prosecution were implicated in the crime by independent witnesses. - The fingerprint on the murder weapon was analyzed by the state and was found not to be Barnes's fingerprint. A defense expert identified the fingerprint as belonging to one of the state's main witnesses. - A lamp on which Barnes's fingerprint was found, and that the state claimed had been recently acquired by the victim, had been in the victim's home for at least five years. Barnes had been in the house numerous times and had helped move furniture. - Evidence suggests that one of the state's witnesses cut a deal with the District Attorney on two drug charges pending against him in exchange for his testimony, although this was not revealed to Barnes's original trial lawyers.

Trial

Barnes was convicted of Helen Bass' murder. The prosecution's case against Barnes consisted primarily of circumstantial evidence. Two witnesses were presented to link Barnes to the murder weapon. There was substantial evidence implicating one of these witnesses in the murder. The other witness agreed to testify in exchange for a deal on two drug charges, despite a state policy prohibiting such deals. There was no other evidence that the gun had been in Barnes's possession or that he had used it. Two small spots of blood were found on coveralls in Barnes's car. The blood was consistent with the victim's blood type, which is also the blood type of 50% of the African-American population in in the U.S. Another witness for the prosecution testified that he had seen Barnes jump a fence at the victim's house one and one-half hours before she returned from work, even though he had earlier told his sister that it was not Barnes. This witness admitted he was at least 45 yards away. Barnes's mother testified that she had brought the victim home that night and returned to her home whereupon her son arrived within five minutes. Defense attorneys appointed by the state failed to carry out their own investigation or to test independently the forensic evidence. At trial, they did not present evidence of Barnes's innocence or challenge the prosecution's witnesses.

Appeals

Initial appeals at the state level were handled by Barnes's original state appointed lawyers. Both the District Court of Wichita County and the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision and upheld Barnes's conviction and sentence. Part way through the appeals process, new attorneys took over the case. Finding that independent investigations and forensic testing had never been done, they asked courts for funds and time to investigate. In Texas, new evidence must be introduced within 30 days of the original sentencing. They were repeatedly denied, but performed an investigation using volunteers and private funding, which uncovered substantial evidence of innocence. They also uncovered evidence of prosecutorial misconduct, perjury, and constitutional violations. Nevertheless, state and federal courts denied relief.

Conclusion

Odell Barnes was executed despite compelling evidence of his innocence that was never heard by any court in the United States. His original court-appointed defense attorneys failed to provide him with adequate legal counsel. They neither found nor presented evidence of his innocence or evidence challenging key prosecution witnesses. Once the opportunity had been missed at the trial level, state and federal appeals courts refused to hear new evidence evidence that had been suppressed by the prosecution and that had gone undiscovered by the defense. In many cases, inflexible time limits and increasingly rigid thresholds for review, such as those imposed by the Federal Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, lead to violations of constitutional protections and human rights. Odell Barnes's was one such case. Despite the fact that he did not receive a fair trial and in spite of evidence of his innocence, no appeals court would hear his case.

Odell Barnes, Jr. Homepage

Texas - Odell Barnes Jr. - Executed by the State of Texas March 1, 2000 despite evidenceproving him innocent. Odell Barnes Jr.s last words:

"I'd like to send great love to my family members, my supporters, my attorneys. They have all supported me throughout this. I thank you for proving my innocence, although it has not been acknowledged by the courts. May you continue in the struggle and may you change all that's being done here today and in the past. Life has not been that good to me, but I believe that now, after meeting so many people who support me in this, that all things will come to an end, and may this be the fruit of better judgements for the future. That's all I have to say."

Links:

Odell's Last Letter to Friends

In Memory of Odell Barnes, Jr. from Friends in Norway

Monday February 28: Despite of this breaking new evidence - Odell was turned down by Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles by 18-0!!

Wednesday March 1: Barnes in final countdown on death row

Wednesday, March 1: French politicians seek clemency for Odell Barnes, Jr.

Monday February 28: An Update of Odell's Legal Situation from Attorney Gary Taylor

For Immediate Release February 27, 2000

Support From the French President Jaques Chirac

Press Release February 17, 2000

A substantial number of death row inmates are indeed innocent and there is a high risk that some of them will be executed. Odell Barnes Jr. became one of them. Odell Barnes Jr. became another victim of this highly fallible, racist, political and arbitrary justice-system. He was executed by the State of Texas on March 1, 2000, despite proven innocence. Generally, the danger of executing the innocents is inherent in the death penalty itself and the fallibility of human nature. The danger is enhanced by the failure to provide adequate counsel and the narrowing of the opportunities to raise the issue of innocence on appeal. Once an execution occurrs, the error is final. This is what the situation for Mr. Odell Barnes Jr came to!

Too often, the reviews afforded death row inmates on appeal and habeas corpus simply do not offer a meaningful opportunity to present claims of innocence. After trial, the legal system becomes locked in a battle over procedural issues rather than a reexamination of guilt or innocence. Despite the U.S. Supreme Court's 1972 charge to the states to overhaul their death penalty laws to make them less arbitrary, and more fair, innocent persons are still being sentenced to death, and the chances remain unacceptably high that the innocent persons have been or will be executed because of inadequate counsel, lack of meaningful judicial review, and racial bias. Please read the documentation offered by these web-pages, and check in often as more information will be available shortly. Thank You!

Associated Press & Rick Halperin

03-01-00 - TEXAS EXECUTION:

Odell Barnes, Jr. was executed Wednesday evening for the murder of a Wichita Falls woman more than 10 years ago. Hours before his execution, when asked what he wanted for his final meal, Odell Barnes said, "Justice, equality and world peace." Later, on the death chamber gurney, Barnes told his family, supporters and lawyers he loved them. "I thank you for proving my innocence, although it has not been acknowledged in the courts," Barnes said. "May you continue in the struggle and may you change all that's being done here today and in the past." As the lethal drugs began taking effect, he took 3 deep breaths, accompanied by gurgling sounds. 9 minutes later, at 6:34 p.m., he was pronounced dead.

The execution was delayed by a few minutes while authorities checked a report that someone else had confessed to the murder. Barnes' lawyer, Gary Taylor, said a report of the confession was a hoax. "The governor's office did look at the so-called confession, took it under full consideration and determined it was not valid, then proceeded with the process," prison spokesman Larry Todd said. Barnes, 31, insisted he was innocent of the rape, beating, stabbing and shooting of 42-year-old Helen Bass at her home. Barnes, convicted of five robberies, 2 rapes and 1 burglary, plus the capital murder, was the 10th condemned killer put to death in Texas this year and the first of three set to die in March.

The Nov. 29, 1989, slaying occurred three weeks after Barnes was paroled after serving 19 months of a 10-year prison term for robbery. Earlier, he had been paroled after serving only 3 months of an 8-year sentence for robbery. The paroles came during a period when Texas had too many inmates and too few prisons and state officials were forced to release inmates to comply with federal court orders governing prison crowding.

While Barnes' impending execution attracted little publicity in Texas, it drew more attention in Europe, particularly in France, where he corresponded with death penalty opponents who contributed several thousand dollars to his defense. The head of the French National Assembly's foreign affairs committee, Jack Lang, met with Barnes last month and was among two French lawmakers to ask Gov. George W. Bush to halt the execution. French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin also sent a letter to Bush seeking clemency for the inmate.

But the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 18-0 this week against recommending to Bush that Barnes' sentence be reduced. The panel also rejected a request for a 360-day reprieve. The courts also refused to halt the execution. The U.S. Supreme Court in November refused to review his case and another attempt to review the case in the state courts was thrown out 2 weeks ago. Barnes and his supporters contended his trial was botched, too hasty and based on fabricated evidence.

Witnesses said they saw Barnes jumping over the fence around the woman's house and with a gun later in the night and that he was wearing coveralls. Coveralls taken from Barnes' brother's car, and identified as the ones Barnes always wore, had blood stains that matched the victim's blood. A ballistics expert testified a gun linked to Barnes could not be identified as the murder weapon. Also, a bullet fired from the weapon showed some consistencies with the bullet recovered from the victim. Barnes' fingerprint was found on a lamp used to beat the victim. Barnes said he knew the woman, had been in her house previously and that the couple had sex more than a day earlier, accounting for the presence of his semen. He said he could have left his fingerprint on the lamp during earlier visits. His attorneys contended the blood stains on the coveralls did not fit the crime scene evidence, and a shoe print left at the scene -- allegedly from Barnes' shoe -- was the same print on hundreds or thousands of shoes.

"I'm at peace," Barnes said in an interview last month. "I established the foundation from day one that I wasn't giving up, that I didn't commit the crime. If they kill me, I haven't laid down and just accepted this. The system is not honest." Barnes becomes the 10th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in Texas and the 209th overall since the state resumed capital punishment on De. 7, 1982. Barnes also becomes the 19th condemned inmate to be put to death this year in the USA and the 617th overall since America resumed executions on Jan. 17, 1977.

CCADP - Odell Barnes Homepage

Odell BARNES, a 31 year old black American, was sentenced to death, on25th May 1991, for the murder of his friend, Helen BASS, killed in her house by a shot into her head, after being bitten and stabbed with a kitchen knife, in the night of 29th to 30th November 1989, in Wichita(Texas).

Although he kept claiming his innocence, Odell Barnes has now been for 9 years in the death row of Huntsville jail, Texas. All his respective recourses were rejected. The last filed appeal will be examined by theSupreme Court of the United States, early October 1999. In case that appeal was as well rejected, date for his execution will then be fixedwithin subsequent 90 days.

However, not only was Odell BARNES condemned at the end of a hasty prosecution (botched investigation with neither hearing of several witnesses, nor indispensable court-ordered appraisals, state designated lawyer who admitted incompetence, a tailored selection of jury, both judge and prosecutor elected by an anti abolition population) which should already justify cancellation of the sentence and a new trial. Moreover, his culpability was not proved or demonstrated.

None of the 5 elements held against him was conclusive :

1. He was arrested on the basis of one and only testimony of a person asserting having seen him in front of the house of the victim, on that evening. But that visual witness pretended having recognised BARNES at 10.30 p.m. when it was established that Mrs. BASS had not left her work until 11.14 p.m. and had arrived home between 11.20 and 11.30 p.m.Moreover, the witness admitted having recognized the accused even though he was at about 40 yards away from him, in the middle of the night, in a street with bad lights, wearing tinted glasses and hardly knowing BARNES. On the other hand, the witness initially asserted that he was alone in his car, when his own sister has later on declared that she waswith him in the vehicle that night and that she thought that the person she had seen was BARNES without however being able to formerly identifyhim and that her brother had told her that it was not BARNES.

2. Policemen noticed presence of numerous blood splashes widely spread in the room where the victim was discovered, whereas only 2 minute bloodstains were spotted on Odell BARNES' clothes, of the same blood groupthat of Mrs. BASS and alike 50% of the black American population.Nevertheless this fact is incompatible with the presence of Odell BARNES on the scene of the crime, as, in this case, his clothes would have been spotted with the victim's blood.

3. Odell BARNES' fingerprint was found on a lamp in the house of the victim. But it was confirmed that he had been several times at Mrs. BASS who was BARNES mistress, which could perfectly explain that fingerprinton the lamp, which, according to the victim's son, had been in his mother's house since at least 5 years. No other fingerprint of Odell BARNES was found, whereas several fingerprints of other non-identified people were taken.

4. On the other hand, the investigators have established that one door of the victim's house was kicked in and held a fingerprint of a shoe susceptible to belong to Odell BARNES. The expert, however, who examinedthe door and the shoes of the accused, has concluded that thousands of shoes were susceptible to have made such a fingerprint.

5. Lastly, 2 witnesses pretended having seen Odell BARNES in possession of the weapon of the crime, shortly after it. However, the investigation proved that one of these "witnesses" had sold the gun to the other andseveral witnesses had seen both of them the night of the crime, covered with blood and in possession of the gun. More, one witness declared having seen one of these persons, near Mrs. BASS house, at the time of these occurrences.

It appears finally that these two persons, to escape their own conviction in the crime, accused ODELL BARNES. Lastly, Odell BARNES had no motive at all to kill his friend. Insofar as a very serious doubt exists on Odell BARNES guiltiness, his capital sentence must be canceled, without enforcing an irrevocable penalty.

APBNews Online

"Texas Executes Killer Rapist; Odell Barnes Jr. Won Support of Many in France."

(March 2, 2000) HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- A man who raped, beat, stabbed and shot a woman was executed by injection, despite pleas from French lawmakers that he be spared. On the death chamber gurney last night, Odell Barnes Jr. told his family, supporters and lawyers that he loved them. "I thank you for proving my innocence, although it has not been acknowledged in the courts," Barnes said. "May you continue in the struggle, and may you change all that's being done here today and in the past." Barnes, 31, insisted he was innocent of the rape, beating, stabbing and shooting death of 42-year-old Helen Bass at her home. The Nov. 29, 1989, slaying occurred three weeks after Barnes was paroled from a 10-year prison term for robbery.

French fought to save man

While Barnes' impending execution attracted little publicity in Texas, it drew more attention in France, where he corresponded with death penalty opponents who contributed several thousand dollars to his defense. The head of the French National Assembly's foreign affairs committee, Jack Lang, met with Barnes last month and was among two French lawmakers to ask Gov. George W. Bush to halt the execution. French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin also sent a letter to Bush seeking clemency for the inmate. Barnes was the 10th condemned killer put to death in Texas this year and the first of three set to die in March.

KHOU.Com

"Career Criminal Put To Death For Killing Wichita Falls Woman 10 Years Ago."

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) -- Condemned killer Odell Barnes went to his death continuing to profess his innocence. Barnes, 31, whose record included nine felony convictions, was executed Wednesday night for the murder of a Wichita Falls woman more than 10 years ago, making him the 10th Texas death row inmate to receive lethal injection this year. Barnes insisted he was not responsible for the rape, beating, stabbing and shooting of 42-year-old Helen Bass at her home. The execution was delayed for about 10 minutes while authorities investigated reports that another man Wednesday had confessed to the Bass slaying Nov. 29, 1989. But Barnes' attorney, Gary Taylor, moments before his client was strapped to the death chamber gurney, said the confession report was a hoax. Gov. George W. Bush's office also considered the report, "determined it was not valid, then proceeded with the process," prison spokesman Larry Todd said.

In a brief final statement, Barnes, whose last meal request was for "Justice, equality and world peace," expressed love to his family, supporters and lawyers. "I thank you for proving my innocence, although it has not been acknowledged in the courts," Barnes said. "May you continue in the struggle and may you change all that's being done here today and in the past." As the lethal drugs began taking effect, he took three deep breaths, accompanied by gurgling sounds. Nine minutes later, he was pronounced dead.

Five members of the Bass family, including the victim's mother and son, watched through a window a feet away. They had no reaction and declined to speak with reporters afterward. Barnes' three attorneys and a spiritual adviser, Robert Muhammed of the Nation of Islam, were among five witnesses selected by Barnes to watch him die. "Truly an innocent man was put to death," Muhammed said. "The real killers are still around."

Besides the capital murder conviction, Barnes' record included five robberies, two rapes and a burglary. At the time of the Bass murder, he was on parole for three weeks after serving 19 months of a 10-year prison term for robbery. Earlier, he had been paroled after serving only three months of an eight-year sentence for robbery. The paroles came during a period when Texas had too many inmates and not enough prisons and state officials were forced to release inmates to comply with federal court orders governing prison crowding.

While Barnes' execution attracted little publicity in Texas, it drew attention in France, where he corresponded with death penalty opponents who contributed several thousand dollars to his defense. Jack Lang, head of the French National Assembly's foreign affairs committee, met with Barnes last month and was among two French lawmakers to ask Bush to halt the execution. Afterward, Lang said in a BBC report that the execution proves that Bush is unfit for the U.S. presidency. Bush representatives in Austin, Texas did not immediately return a telephone call today from The Associated Press. Several French television crews were in Huntsville Wednesday night to cover the execution.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 18-0 this week to not recommend to Bush that Barnes' sentence be reduced. The panel also rejected a request for a 360-day reprieve. That meant the governor could only issue a one-time 30-day reprieve, which he declined to do. The courts also refused to halt the execution. Barnes and his supporters contended his trial was based on fabricated evidence.

"That's a farce," Wichita County District Attorney Barry Macha, who prosecuted Barnes, said this week. "What's troubling with these 11th-hour attempts is that it revictimizes the victim in this case and in effect again rapes the victim and her family's good name." Macha told the Wichita Falls Times Record News that he had received two phone calls from Bush's office minutes before Barnes was executed. "There was mention that one of the witnesses had recanted, and we were told it was Johnny Rey Humphries, but when my investigator contacted him, he denied it completely," Macha said.

Grassroots Investigation: Reasonable Doubt - Odell Barnes