Last pretrial hearing Thursday in Telford death penalty case

Tracy appears in court in Feb. of 2016 (photo by Field Walsh)

New Boston, Texas: Outstanding motions and other issues were discussed at a hearing Thursday in the case of a Texas prison inmate accused of capital murder in the July 15, 2015, beating death of a Barry Telford Unit correctional officer.

Billy Joel Tracy, 39, could receive a death sentence or life without the possibility of parole if convicted of killing 47-year-old Timothy Davison during a walk from a prison dayroom to his cell in segregation. Opening arguments are scheduled to begin Monday, Oct. 23, at the Bowie County courthouse in New Boston.

At a hearing Thursday, Tracy’s defense team, Mac Cobb of Mount Pleasant and Jeff Harrelson of Texarkana, said they still want the case moved out of Bowie County. Cobb said he is filing a supplemental change of venue motion and Harrelson said the defense wants its objections to two seated jurors put on the record.

Lockhart said that the average age of the seven men and five women chosen as jurors is 48. Two women will serve as alternates.

Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp asked that the defense provide her with information concerning the science and any testing their experts intend to rely on during the trial. Crisp said she believes those experts are expected to take the stand during the punishment phase of trial if Tracy is found guilty. Crisp said she would like to review brain scans and other reports before the witnesses are called so that if a hearing to determine whether they are admissible can be held before the jury is in the courthouse.

According to a Texas Department of Criminal Justice report, Tracy was able to slip his left hand free while cuffed and attack Davison, knocking him down. Tracy allegedly grabbed Davison’s metal tray slot bar, a tool used to open the slots in cell doors, and beat him to death.

The Bowie County District Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty for Tracy, who has a long history of violence in prison since he was assessed a life term by a jury in Rockwall County for burglary and assault in 1998. Since then Tracy has been a constant disciplinary problem, has repeatedly tried to escape, and has been sentenced to additional 10-year and 45-year terms for assaults on correctional officers.

Assistant District Attorneys Kelley Crisp and Lauren Richards are prosecuting the case.

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