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John Ray Falk, Jr. - Texas Death Row
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Thread: John Ray Falk, Jr. - Texas Death Row

  1. #1
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    John Ray Falk, Jr. - Texas Death Row





    DA to seek death for escapee

    Walker County District Attorney David Weeks will let a jury decide the fate of an inmate who is accused of the murder of a correctional officer during an attempted escape from prison almost five years ago.

    Weeks said Monday that the state will pursue the death penalty for John Ray Falk Jr., who along with Jerry Duane Martin, broke out of the Wynne Unit in 2007, stole a truck and ran over Texas Department of Criminal Justice employee Susan Canfield, killing her.

    Two weeks ago, District Judge Ken Keeling addressed the commissioners court on the costs Walker County faced in bringing Falk to trial for capital murder. Keeling said with defense attorney and expert fees, the trial would cost around $500,000. He wanted to give the commissioners a heads up while they were sorting through budget issues because he intended to see the case tried in October.

    When Walker County got a death penalty conviction in 2009 for Martin — who was driving the vehicle that struck the horse Canfield was riding — the cost of that trial was $400,000. The state reimbursed the county for most of the expenses.

    The problem facing the county in Falk’s trial is that the state claims it can only cover $50,000 of the expected $500,000 expense. Because of budget issues in the last couple of years, the state says the money available for Martin’s 2009 trial is not available to reimburse the county for Falk’s trial.

    Weeks, Keeling and the commissioners all agree that the state should foot the bill — not Walker County taxpayers — since Falk escaped from the state’s custody. And Walker County’s state representative, John Otto, R-Dayton, seems to agree, county officials said.

    “Money is a concern, but I believe the state will help us. We have always gotten a positive response from them,” Weeks said. “I have spoken with State Rep. John Otto, and we will continue to explore ways to get funding. Walker County should not have to pay for this.”

    Weeks said he could not in good faith plead for life in Falk’s capital murder trial. Correctional officers need to be protected, and that Falk was already serving a life sentence for murder when he escaped and killed Canfield, he said.

    Weeks said he will present the case to a jury and let it decide if Falk should be sentenced to death or life, if convicted.

    “Falk killed someone while he was already serving life, so I cannot in good conscience plead this case for life,” Weeks said. “We ask correctional officers to watch these guys and we need to show inmates that there are consequences for their actions.

    “We have to try this case because I have an obligation to seek justice and do what is right.”

    Falk’s trial has been delayed by unforseen circumstances. Weeks does not see this case going to trial in October. Citing a lack of staff resources, he is going to file a motion of continuance, possibly this week, to get the trial moved to the spring. The DA’s office has had to replace three out of six staff members and Weeks and assistant district attorney Stephanie Stroud are the only ones on staff familiar with Falk’s case. Other employees would have to go through the stack of files concerning the trial to be caught up to speed, which will take time, and the office’s current case load will make that difficult.

    “A trial like this is going to take a lot of time. Jury selection alone could take up to four weeks,” Weeks said. “And life goes on; it does not stop. We are dealing with staffing issues right now and we have other cases we are working on. Things will get piled up. We are going to see if we can get it moved to the spring and keep seeking help from the state to fund it.”

    There are a number of reasons as to why it would cost Walker County half a million dollars to try Falk, county officials said. Court-appointed defense attorney Michele Esparza from Bryan turned into Keeling an estimate that trial costs for experts, investigators and other essentials would be $150,000. The estimated attorney’s fees would amount to $350,000.

    Esparza also would request a third attorney to attend the trial, which will be conducted in Brazos County on a change of venue, to assist in recording trial errors and serve as Falk’s appellate attorney. If Falk is convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death, he is automatically granted an appeal.

    Fees for defense attorneys in capital murder trials are high because these attorneys must meet certain qualifications and there are not that many who are willing to take on these cases.

    Keeling told the commissioners court that defense attorneys are heavily scrutinized during a capital murder trial by inmates’ appellate attorneys.

    http://itemonline.com/local/x3285689...th-for-escapee
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

    "Y'all be makin shit up" ~ Markeith Loyd

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    Walker County capital murder case gets change of venue to Bryan

    Jury selection is expected to begin Oct. 15 in a capital murder trial in which a 45-year-old man is accused of killing a corrections officer while escaping a Huntsville prison in 2007.

    Prosecutors are seeking the death penalty for John Ray Falk Jr., whose case will be heard by Walker County District Judge Ken Keeling. It will take place in Bryan because Keeling granted a change of venue request.

    Authorities said Falk was doing supervised field work when he and another inmate managed to steal a pickup they used to flee.

    Texas Department of Criminal Justice employee Susan Canfield, 59, was on horseback when she was struck by the stolen truck, according to police reports that detail how she died after falling off the horse.

    Falks co-defendant, Jerry Duane Martin, was convicted of capital murder in 2009 and sentenced to death. Martin was driving the vehicle that hit Canfield.

    Michele Esparza, a Bryan-based defense attorney, was appointed to represent Falk, who had been in prison since 1986 serving a life sentence for killing an elderly lawyer in Matagorda County.

    http://www.theeagle.com/article/2012.../bc20/&slId=12
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    Capital murder trial begins Monday

    The capital murder trial of the second of two inmates charged with the death of a correctional officer during a daring escape in Huntsville five years ago begins this week in Brazos County.

    The Walker County District Attorney’s Office will be seeking the death penalty for John Ray Falk Jr., who along with Jerry Duane Martin, broke out of the Wynne Unit in 2007, stole a truck and ran over Texas Department of Criminal Justice employee Susan Canfield, killing her.

    Jury selection for Falk’s trial is set for Monday morning at the Brazos Center in Bryan after a change of venue request was granted.

    Attorneys for the state and defense are expected to meet with the jury pool and set up schedules to interview each potential juror individually. Trial officials expect it to take up to four weeks to select a jury panel to hear the case.

    Martin, who was driving the truck that struck Canfield while she was on horseback, was convicted of capital murder in 2009 and sentenced to death. Falk is being charged as an accomplice.

    District Judge Ken Keeling, who is presiding over the trial, issued a gag order on Aug. 16, preventing participants of the trial from talking to the media about the case. But two weeks before the order, Walker County District Attorney David Weeks said his office would seek the death penalty for Falk even though he was a passenger in the truck because correctional officers needed to be protected.

    “Falk killed someone while he was already serving life, so I cannot in good conscience plead this case for life,” Weeks said on Aug. 7. “We ask correctional officers to watch these guys and we need to show inmates that there are consequences for their actions.

    “We have to try this case because I have an obligation to seek justice and do what is right.”

    The attempted escaped took place on Sept. 24, 2007 at the unit, located off FM 2821 in Huntsville. According to reports, Martin and Falk were working outside when Martin approached an officer and asked him to hold a broken watch. As the officer reached for the watch, Falk distracted him with a sound, allowing Martin to grab the officer’s gun.

    Using the weapon to hold off nearby officers, the two inmates were able to scale a barbed-wire fence. After stealing a second weapon at gunpoint and exchanging fire with several nearby officers, they were able to commandeer a city of Huntsville truck.

    While escaping, they rammed Canfield.

    Canfield was thrown from her horse and was killed due to head injuries sustained when she struck the windshield of the truck and the ground. Her horse was later euthanized due to wounds from the collision and gunfire.

    “Officer Canfield exhibited courage that day in 2007 that has left a lasting impression on this agency,” TDJC spokesman Jason Clark said Wednesday. “She paid the ultimate price to keep the citizens of the state of Texas safe and that sacrifice will never be forgotten.”

    Martin and Falk later dumped the truck a mile away and hijacked a motorist — Madilene Loosier — who was in line at a nearby bank drive-through.

    Officers from several local agencies were able to shoot out the tires of the hijacked vehicle, leaving Martin and Falk to continue to flee on foot.

    Falk was apprehended within an hour after the escape, while Martin was found hiding in a tree approximately three and a half hours later.

    After the escape, TDCJ developed a new training curriculum for field force officers. The agency also created a new position — major of field force training. The major oversees the training of field force officers. The major also developed a risk assessment tool which is used to determine security and safety risks of community service and field work locations throughout the state.

    http://itemonline.com/local/x1200627...-begins-Monday
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

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  4. #4
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    Jury Selection Underway in John Ray Falk, Jr. Capital Murder Trial

    Monday in Bryan jury selection began in the capital murder trial of John Ray Falk, Jr. Falk is being charged as an accomplice under the Texas Law of Parties in the 2007 murder of TDCJ correctional officer Susan Canfield. During an escape attempt from the Wynne Unit, Falk was in a truck driven by Jerry Duane Martin. The truck hit the horse Susan Canfield was riding which resulted in her death.

    Twelve jurors and two alternates will be selected from 200 potential jurors. The pool of jurors fill out questionnaires which will aid attorneys in future individual interviews slated to start Wednesday.

    Judge Ken Keeling believes the interviews will take from three to four weeks and about two weeks for the trial.

    http://ksam1017.com/2012/news/jury-s...-murder-trial/

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    Jury selected in capital murder trial

    A jury was seated Thursday for the capital murder trial of an inmate accused in the death of a Texas Department of Criminal Justice employee during an escape attempt at a Huntsville prison unit in 2007.

    John Ray Falk Jr. is being charged under the Texas Law of Parties for his role in the murder of correctional officer Susan Canfield. He faces the death penalty if he is convicted.

    Walker County District Attorney David Weeks said Thursday the state and defense selected six men and six women to decide the outcome of the trial, which is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Nov. 26 in the 272nd District Courtroom in Bryan. Two men have been selected as alternates for the jury.

    Falk, who is being represented by Michelle Esparza of Bryan, is the second of two inmates to be charged with capital murder in Canfields death. Jerry Duane Martin was convicted and sentenced to die in 2009 for his role. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld Martins conviction and death sentence last week.

    Martin used a stolen truck to ram a horse Canfield was riding while she tried to prevent his and Falks escape from the Wynne Unit in September 2007. Canfield died as a result of injuries she sustained when she crashed into the windshield of the truck and hit the ground.

    Martin and Falk later dumped the truck a mile away and hijacked a motorist before law enforcement officers where able to shoot the tires of the vehicle. Martin and Falk fled on foot.

    Falk was apprehended within an hour after the escape, while Martin was found hiding in a tree a few hours later.

    The state will have to prove that Falk intentionally and knowingly participated in Canfields murder. He is being charged as an accomplice since Martin was driving the stolen truck that struck Canfields horse.

    Jury selection for Falks trial began on Oct. 16. The state and defense attorneys had been conducting individual interviews with potential jurors over the past three weeks. Thursday both sides had a chance to strike people they felt were not right to sit on this jury before agreeing on the ones selected.

    http://itemonline.com/local/x1501153...l-murder-trial
    An uninformed opponent is a dangerous opponent.

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    Trial beginning in corrections officer's death

    A convicted killer already serving a life prison term for murder is now facing a possible death sentence for an escape attempt five years ago that left a Texas corrections officer dead.

    Opening statements and the start of testimony were set for Monday in the capital murder trial of John Ray Falk Jr., 45, for the September 2007 breakout from a prison work detail in Huntsville.

    Susan Canfield, 59, a seven-year Texas Department of Criminal Justice officer, was killed as Falk and fellow prisoner Jerry Martin broke away from the inmate work crew outside the Wynne Unit prison. Martin jumped into a nearby Huntsville city truck and rammed it into Canfield, who was on horseback. The horse threw her and she struck the windshield of the truck before tumbling to the ground.

    Canfield, from New Waverly, died of head injuries. No state corrections officer has been killed by an inmate since then.

    Martin, 42, was convicted of capital murder three years ago and sentenced to die. At the time of the escape, he was serving 50 years for attempted capital murder out of Collin County in suburban Dallas. Last month, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld his conviction and death sentence. He still can pursue federal appeals and he does not have an execution date.

    Walker County District Attorney David Weeks is seeking the death penalty against Falk, who is accused under Texas' law of parties that makes an accomplice equally liable as the actual killer.

    State District Judge Ken Keeling agreed to a defense request to move Falk's trial from Huntsville to Bryan, about 50 miles to the west. Martin's case was moved from Huntsville to Centerville, about 50 miles to the north. The judge also has imposed a gag order on people in Falk's case.

    After three weeks of individual interviews with potential jurors from Brazos County, prosecutors and defense attorneys selected 14 jurors, two of them alternates. The guilt-innocence portion of the trial is expected to last about two weeks.

    Falk already had been in prison since 1986 with a life sentence for a murder conviction in Matagorda County.

    Both inmates, however, had been classified as minimum security prisoners based on their good disciplinary record and were assigned to do field work outside the prison under the supervision of officers.

    A prison agency investigation of the escape faulted a supervising sergeant, who subsequently was recommended for dismissal and resigned, for failing to follow procedures and allowing the opportunity for Falk and Martin to bolt from the 76-inmate detail working near the prison in a field near Interstate 45.

    The sergeant and Canfield, both on horseback, were among nine officers guarding the work crew, which authorities determined was an adequate amount of security. But agency investigators said the sergeant allowed Martin to improperly approach him under the guise of holding his broken watch and divert his attention from Falk.

    Falk created some kind of distraction and Martin was close enough to rush him and try to get the sergeant's .357-caliber revolver. Falk joined Martin in the struggle where Martin grabbed the gun and tossed it to Falk, who pointed it at the sergeant. When the sergeant stopped resisting, the inmates climbed a barbed wire fence and ran into a parking lot where Canfield was on her horse.

    Falk began firing at her as she and other officers returned fire. He reached Canfield, stuck the revolver in her side and grabbed her rifle. Martin by then had jumped into the truck and rammed Canfield and her horse, then both inmates sped off. They dumped the pickup about a mile away and carjacked a woman in a bank drive-through. Huntsville police pursuing them shot out a tire in that car and the inmates ran away on foot.

    Falk was apprehended within an hour. Martin was caught hiding in a tree about 3 1/2 hours later. The next day, Martin unsuccessfully tried to hang himself in his cell.

    http://abclocal.go.com/ktrk/story?se...ate&id=8897436
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    Medical examiner takes the stand in Falk trial

    The state is close to wrapping up its case as the final witness took the stand Friday in the capital murder trial of an inmate accused in the murder of a correctional officer during an attempted escape five years ago.

    The Brazos County jury which will decide if John Ray Falk Jr. faces the death penalty if convicted in the murder of Texas Department of Criminal Justice employee Susan Canfield on Sept. 24, 2007 heard testimony from Dallas County medical examiner Dr. Tracy Dyer on Friday. Dyer testified that Canfield died from blunt force trauma to her head when inmates in a stolen truck rammed the horse she was riding while she tried to prevent their escape.

    The state is still waiting for 278th Judicial District Judge Kenneth Keeling of Huntsville to rule on whether a letter Falk wrote to his mother a month after he and Jerry Duane Martin broke out of the Wynne Unit farm in Huntsville is admissible as evidence before the state rests. Keeling said Friday he would read the letter over the weekend and make a decision when court reconvenes Monday morning at the Brazos County Courthouse.

    According to testimony, Martin and Falk overpowered another correctional officer and stole his firearm while a group of inmates were working in a vegetable field at the Wynne farm. Testimony this week showed that Falk exchanged gunfire with Canfield, who worked as a high rider on horseback in the City of Huntsville Service Center yard adjacent to the garden. Martin, who has already been sent to death row for his role in Canfields murder, stole a work truck and rammed Canfields horse.

    Witnesses this week testified that upon impact, Canfield flew off the horse and crashed into the windshield of the truck, hitting her head on the roof. She died at the scene.

    Dyer, who performed the autopsy of Canfields body, said Canfield suffered numerous fractures that involved most of the bones of the skull.

    The medical examiner noted during the autopsy that Canfield had sustained a significant head injury with hemorrhaging below the scalp, a fracture underneath the eye and a hinge fracture along the base of the skull running from ear to ear.

    Walker County District Attorney David Weeks asked Dyer to explain to the jury what a hinge fracture was.

    In pathology terms, when you have fractures all along the base it makes the skull stretchy so you can move it like a hinge, Dyer said.

    Dyer said that in her findings, which was signed off on by all the medical examiners in Dallas County, Canfields injuries were consistent with the scenario presented to her by investigators that Canfields head hit the roof of the truck.

    Defense Attorney Michelle Esparza objected to the testimony because she said Dyer was not a crash reconstruction expert. Keeling overruled it.

    Dyer also testified that she had performed autopsies on a number of deaths resulting in hinge fractures and that it requires a significant force. She gave examples such as car crashes, people being ejected through windshields or people falling off overpasses.

    The defense argued that Canfield might have sustained the injury from hitting the asphalt, not the truck. Dyer said it could have happened.

    The state also pointed to a large bruise on the inside of Canfields right thigh that could have been caused when Canfield hit the horn of her saddle at the point at which the truck collided with the horse. During cross examination, Dyer agreed with the defense that there was no way to know for sure if that was what caused the injury.

    Keeling also Friday excluded the testimony of a witness on death row in Arizona for the murder of two people in 2009. During a hearing Thursday it was revealed that the TDCJ Office of Inspector General intercepted a letter from inmate Michael Carlson, who was incarcerated at the Wynne Unit at the time of the escape, claiming to have information about the case.

    The defense argued that Carlson was a known liar who enjoyed the limelight. Esparza brought up an interview Carlson gave to an Arizona television station during which he confessed to multiple murders in Kansas and Texas. Detectives in areas where the supposed murders took place said there were no cases that fit the descriptions of murders for which Carlson claimed credit.

    That interview, which was taken shortly after Carlson was arrested for the murders of Kenneth Alliman and Rebecca Lou Lofton, helped an Arizona jury convict Carlson of two counts of first-degree murder and kidnapping in August.

    Esparza said it violated Falks rights to put a witness on the stand in a capital murder trial who has been deceitful in the past.

    He is not truthful, and the state should not be allowed to represent him as a witness in this case, she said.

    Keeling sided with the defense.

    I do agree that the state or defense should not sponsor a witness known not to be telling the truth, Keeling said. He later added, You cant be bringing liars in here.

    Weeks said the state believed there was more to Carlsons claim since the letter was written the day of the escape before the news got around about what happened.

    Special prosecutor Jane Starnes said to let the jury decide whether to believe (Carlson) or not.

    I dont think this guy needs to be here, Keeling said.

    http://itemonline.com/local/x1332344...-in-Falk-trial
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    Another Delay in Capital Murder Trial

    Closing arguments in the capital murder trial of a Texas inmate charged with the 2007 death of a guard have been delayed until at least next week.

    The Eagle newspaper reports an appeals court in Waco on Monday will consider jury instructions in the Bryan trial of John Falk Jr. Falk was serving a life term for murder when corrections officer Susan Canfield was killed during an escape attempt at the Wynne Unit in Huntsville.

    Inmate Jerry Martin has been sent to death row for the slaying of Canfield, who was on horseback. Martin had been serving 50 years for attempted capital murder.

    Prosecutors this week asked an appeals court to rule on the specific jury charge in Falks life-or-death case.

    http://wtaw.com/2012/12/06/another-d...-murder-trial/
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    Falk murder trial resumes after writ of mandamus is denied

    The 10th Court of Criminal Appeals Thursday denied a writ of mandamus filed by prosecutors in the capital murder trial of John Ray Falk Jr. requesting that changes be made to the court's instructions to jurors.

    The ruling brings an end to the stay of proceedings that put Falk's trial on hold more than a week ago, five minutes before Brazos County jurors were supposed to hear closing arguments in the guilt or innocence phase.

    For now, the jury is scheduled to return Monday. However, plans could change again if the state decides to appeal the denial with the Court of Criminal Appeals and if the case is accepted for review.

    Falk, 45, was charged with capital murder in 2007 after a correctional officer was killed while he and another inmate at the Wynne prison unit in Huntsville, Jerry Duane Martin, managed a brief escape. Susan Canfield, 59, was on horseback attempting to prevent the inmates from getting away when she was thrown off her horse as it was struck by a truck driven by Martin, according to testimony.

    Martin and Falk fled in the truck as Canfield took her final breaths after severely fracturing her skull.

    In issuing their opinion, 10th Court Justices Rex Davis and Al Scoggins and Doug Lang of the 5th Court of Appeals, who sat in for Chief 10th Court Justice Tom Gray, explained why they couldn't grant the request from Walker County District Attorney David Weeks and assistant attorney general Jane Starnes, the trial prosecutors who asked for two modifications to be made to the judge's charge to the jury.

    They had requested that jurors be given the option of finding Falk "guilty as party" to the capital murder of Susan Canfield and that wording be removed requiring the state to prove Falk should have anticipated the "manner and means" in which Canfield would be killed for jurors to find him guilty as a conspirator.

    While arguing their case in front of the appeals court in Waco Monday, Weeks emphasized the latter part of the state's request, saying had the language not been added the prosecutors likely wouldn't have appealed even though the "party" option was left out.

    But because the issue in question - whether the state needed to prove that Falk should have anticipated the "manner and means" of Canfield's death to be convicted of capital murder as a conspirator -- is not "well-settled" law, the appeals court said it could not rule in favor of the state.

    However, in a footnote on the last page of the opinion, the justices made a point to say that they "are of strong opinion ... that Texas law does not support including in the fourth element that the state must prove Falk should have anticipated the specific manner and means by which Martin caused the death of Canfield."

    Appellate judges wrote in their opinion that the first part of the state's mandamus was denied because the decision to exclude the "party law" was made by District Judge Ken Keeling based on his finding that the state hadn't provided enough evidence to prove the necessary elements despite prosecutors' insistence otherwise.

    "To the extent that there is a dispute about the state of evidence, we may not resolve it in an original mandamus proceeding," the justices wrote.

    If Falk is convicted, Weeks and Starnes intend to seek the death penalty -- the same sentence his co-defendant received during his 2009 trial.

    The trial was moved to Brazos County based on a change of venue request from the defense team that Keeling granted to ensure Falk a fair and impartial jury after Martin's high-publicity trial in Walker County.

    Because there is a gag order in place, attorneys are not permitted to speak with the media and it was unknown if the state planned to seek further relief.

    http://www.theeagle.com/news/local/a...3889688bf.html
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    Falk Capital Murder Trial On Hold Until New Year

    A court decision has been halted--at least temporarily--in the capital murder trial of a Huntsville inmate charged in the 2007 death of a prison guard during an escape attempt.

    Earlier this week, prosecutors filed a motion for a judge to clarify instructions for the jury in the case of John Falk Jr. They hoped the court would alter the instructions as they are seeking the death penalty for Falk.

    That appeal was denied, but today a judge granted a stay on the appeal's ruling, which now means that a court in Austin will take up the decision.

    That means the trial will be on hold until at least the first of the new year.

    http://www.kbtx.com/home/headlines/F...183603491.html
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