Texas inmate accused of killing guard appears in court

Tracy entering the courtroom in New Boston, Texas - Jan 08, 2016 (photo by Field Walsh)

New Boston, Texas: A Texas prison inmate facing death himself in the July 2015 beating death of a Barry Telford Unit guard in New Boston was in court Friday for a pretrial hearing.

Billy Joel Tracy, 39, is accused of using a metal bar used to open the slots in cell doors to murder Correctional Officer Timothy Davison, 47, during a routine walk from a day room to Tracy’s cell the morning of July 15, 2015. The Bowie County District Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty.

Friday morning the state questioned a current US serviceman, Mark Adcock Jr., about his duties at Telford in July 2015 maintaining the prison’s video surveillance system and related computers. Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp asked 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart for permission to videotape Adcock’s testimony months ahead of trial in light of his upcoming deployment to Iraq.

In the event Adcock cannot be present for Tracy’s capital murder trial later this year, the video of Crisp and Texarkana lawyer Jeff Harrelson questioning him can be played for a jury. Adcock testified that the prison is covered by roughly 300 cameras, some of which captured the fatal beating of Davison from various angles.

Also discussed at Friday’s hearing was a motion to introduce evidence of other misconduct by Tracy at his trial. Crisp filed an 18-page motion Thursday which chronicles violent and non-compliant acts by Tracy in and out of prison beginning in 1995. Since receiving a life sentence in Rockwall County from a jury in 1998, Tracy has received additional 10 and 45-year prison terms for assaults on correctional officers. Crisp’s motions details other numerous threats and assaults involving correctional officers and inmates which involve the use of bodily fluids, razor blades and homemade darts.

In response to Tracy’s repeated complaints about the criminal justice system and his own defense team in documents he has filed on his own behalf, Lockhart has routinely given Tracy the option of speaking at his monthly pretrial hearings. Tracy read a prepared statement Friday which was critical of Crisp, his defense team, and Lockhart.

While Tracy has been consistently critical of his lead defense attorney, Mac Cobb of Mount Pleasant, and of Crisp, his rant Friday targeted Lockhart as well. Tracy accused the judge of “riding roughshod” over his complaints, and described the proceedings in his case as a “dog and pony show.”

Tracy said he believes Lockhart has “turned a blind eye” to mishandling of his case and said he believes his “fate is sealed.”

“I understand the inconvenience to everyone for me fighting against the state-sanctioned taking of my life, my own murder,” Tracy said.

There was no due process for Davison when Tracy allegedly managed to free a hand from cuffs and strike Davison in the face, knocking him to the floor as the two walked from the day room back to Tracy’s cell in administrative segregation. Tracy allegedly grabbed Davison’s tray slot bar and struck him again and again. Davison was pronounced dead a few hours later in a Texarkana hospital.

According to a critical incident review report released by Texas Department of Criminal Justice months after Davison was killed, Tracy told investigators who interviewed him following the incident that prison staff didn’t realize how dangerous he is.

Lockhart scheduled Tracy’s next pretrial hearing for April 7. If convicted of capital murder, Tracy faces death by lethal injection or life without the possibility of parole.

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