Jury deliberations underway in death penalty trial

Tracy appears in court in Feb. of 2016 (photo by Field Walsh)
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NEW BOSTON, Texas: A Bowie County jury began deliberations in the sentencing phase of Billy Joel Tracy’s capital murder trial at about 10:30 a.m. this morning at the Bowie County courthouse in New Boston.

The jury has the choice of sentencing Tracy, 39, to death by lethal injection or life without the possibility of parole. The jury heard arguments Wednesday morning from Assistant District Attorneys Kelley Crisp and Lauren Richards for the state and from Texarkana defense attorney Jeff Harrelson, who represents Tracy with Mount Pleasant attorney Mac Cobb.

“Someone will receive a death sentence at the end of this trial,” Crisp argued. “Will it be another correctional officer with TDCJ or will it be Billy Joel Tracy?”

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Richards told the jury there has never been evidence which more strongly supports a death sentence in Texas than the testimony the jury heard in Tracy’s trial.

Harrelson argued that Tracy didn’t choose his brain dysfunction and rough upbringing.

“Each of you has the power to give life,” Harrelson argued. “That’s what I’m asking you to do. Choose life.”

Correctional Officer Timothy Davison was escorting Tracy back to his cell following an hour of recreation July 15, 2015, when Tracy escaped from his handcuffs and attacked. After knocking Davison down, Tracy grabbed the officer’s metal tray slot bar, a tool used to open the slot in cell doors, and beat him with it until Davison’s face was unrecognizable. Davison was pronounced dead a few hours later at a Texarkana hospital.

Tracy’s jury found him guilty of capital murder Oct. 27. A crowd of Davison’s friends and family and Texas Department of Criminal Justice personnel are gathered at the Bowie County courthouse now awaiting the verdict on punishment.

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