Texas inmate’s death penalty trial continues

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NEW BOSTON, Texas: Correctional Officer Katie Stanley testified Friday that she believed she was going to die after Billy Joel Tracy stabbed her seven times in 2005 with a handmade knife at a prison in Amarillo, Texas.

Tracy, 39, is facing death by lethal injection or life without the possibility of parole in the July 15, 2015, slaying of Correctional Officer Timothy Davison at the Barry Telford Unit in New Boston. Witness after witness has taken the stand since Tracy was pronounced guilty of capital murder Oct. 27 and described prior asks of violence by Tracy under questioning by Assistant District Attorneys Kelley Crisp and Lauren Richards.

Stanley testified that she mostly worked in the central control room of the Clements Unit but was working the unit floor of I pod in general population Nov. 20, 2005. Stanley testified that she was completely unfamiliar with Tracy the day he attacked on the third floor of I pod. In a video played for the jury, Stanley can be seen walking past Tracy seconds before he runs up behind her and stabs her in the neck, lungs and kidneys with a piece of metal sharpened into a blade and outfitted with a string-wrapped handle. Toward the end of the attack, Tracy kicks and stomps Stanley’s head and arms.

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Stanley was on a ventilator for three days because of a collapsed lung. The outline of the tread pattern on Tracy’s tennis shoe could be clearly seen on her forehead in photos shown to the jury. Stanley testified she required metals pins to fix broken bones in her arms.

“He had kind of a blank expression,” Stanley said of Tracy. “It was more like he was conducting business at the office.”

After the attack, Tracy was interviewed twice about his motive.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice Office of Inspector General Investigator Carl Heitel, retired, testified as a video recording of his interview with Tracy at Clements was played. Tracy told him that he was angry because staff confiscated items from his cell. Tracy is particularly angry that rules require confiscation of property, including toothpaste, 60 days after purchase.

“You can’t use a tube of toothpaste in 60 days,” Tracy complained. “Nothing is always free. Somebody’s always got to pay.”

In an interview at the Allred Unit in Wichita Falls, Texas, the day after the assault, Tracy again complains about his missing toothpaste when asked why he attacked Stanley. When OIG Regional Commander David Mayo asks Tracy why he is in prison, Tracy states that he is serving two life sentences plus 20 years for aggravated assault with serious bodily injury, assault of a peace officer and burglary of a habitation which occurred in Rockwall County in 1998.

“I was in the process of killing someone when a cop rolled up on me. It was this broad I was in the process of burying,” Tracy said in the recorded interview.

The jury of nine men and three women has only heard testimony from witnesses for the state at this point in the punishment phase of Tracy’s trial. After the state and defense finish presenting witness testimony, the jury will hear instructions from 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart on the law and closing arguments frmo the state and defense. Tracy is represented by Mac Cobb of Mount Pleasant and Jeff Harrelson of Texarkana.

The jury will be asked to consider two “special issues” in their deliberations. The first question they must answer is whether Tracy continues to present a danger. The second is whether there are factors that make a sentence of life without parole an acceptable option over the death penalty. The state is seeking a death sentence.

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