Defense rests in inmate’s capital murder trial

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NEW BOSTON, Texas: The defense rested Monday in Billy Joel Tracy’s capital murder trial at the Bowie County courthouse in New Boston.

Tracy, 39, is facing a possible death sentence in the July 15, 2015, beating death of Barry Telford Unit Correctional Officer Timothy Davison, 47. A jury of nine men and three women found Tracy guilty of capital murder Oct. 27. Monday the defense rested its case in the sentencing phase after calling psychologist Jolie Brams Ph.D. to give testimony about her evaluation of Tracy.

Brams testified that she believes Tracy is “aging out” of violence and that a horrible childhood and ineffective parents, along with brain abnormalities and incarceration at a young age are to blame for Tracy’s long history of violence, under questioning from Mount Pleasant, Texas, defense attorney Mac Cobb. Brams said Tracy’s mother and father met in a mental hospital and that Tracy’s father’s parents met in a mental hospital also.

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Brams said she interviewed Tracy’s mother “after chasing her up a hill” in a small Arkansas town. Brams said Tracy’s mother has borderline personality disorder and is narcissistic. Tracy’s father died in 2012.

Brams said Tracy’s parents were abusive and that Tracy did not form the bonds and attachments necessary for a person to develop socially. Brams said that while Tracy was testing at the top percentile at age 6, his performance decreased several years later.

Brams said Tracy’s mother put him in a mental hospital at age 12. She said he was highly medicated while there and probably didn’t receive the psychotherapy he needed. Also lacking in Tracy’s life was intervention from state agencies, such as Child Protective Services, which could have intervened if anyone had notified them of the abuse he was subjected to in his home life.

Under cross examination by Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp, Brams said that she cannot guarantee that Tracy won’t be violent again but expressed the opinion that now that Tracy is aware of his brain abnormality he is willing to take medication and work on his behavior. When Brams testified that she wouldn’t want to see Tracy “in the free world,” Crisp asked her if she was aware how many other inmates and prison staff Tracy could potentially assault.

After the defense rested, Cobb made a motion for 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart to give Tracy a sentence of life without parole with a finding that Tracy is mentally disabled. Lockhart denied the motion.

Cobb continued to complain that a juror in the case should be dismissed. Cobb alleges that he saw a juror wink at prosecutors and give a thumbs-up the day Tracy was found guilty of capital murder in Davison’s death. After hearing testimony from multiple members of Texas Department of Criminal Justice staff and an investigator with the Bowie County District Attorneys Office that they had not observed any winking or hand gestures from the jury, Lockhart ruled that no misconduct occurred.

The state is expected to present several witnesses Tuesday to refute the testimony of defense experts who have testified Tracy has a “broken brain” and cannot be held entirely responsible for Davison’s murder. A verdict in the case is expected this week. Tracy faces life without parole or death by lethal injection.

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