Inmate facing death penalty appears in Bowie County court

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

NEW BOSTON, Texas: A Texas prison inmate accused of bludgeoning a correctional officer at the Barry Telford Unit to death in 2015 appeared in court Friday for a pretrial hearing.

Billy Joel Tracy, 39, was flanked by a cadre of Texas Department of Criminal Justice officers as he entered 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart’s courtroom Friday morning. Tracy is facing the death penalty in the beating death of Timothy Davison, a correctional officer with less than a year’s experience who was attacked July 15, 2015.

Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp and Tracy’s defense attorneys, Matt Cobb of Mount Pleasant, Texas, and Jeff Harrelson of Texarkana, told Lockhart they have plans to meet June 2 and discuss matters concerning Tracy’s upcoming trial. A motion to suppress video of Tracy’s murder and of interviews with Tracy after the deadly attack filed by Cobb is expected to be argued at the next pretrial hearing June 16.

Crisp handed the defense a large volume of papers which she said includes a transcript of Tracy’s 1998 trial in Rockwall County for aggravated assault, burglary and assault on a peace officer which resulted in two life sentences with parole possible and a 20-year sentence. Crisp said she also has the actual exhibits from Tracy’s first trial in her office at the Bowie County District Attorney’s Office where the defense is welcome to review them.

Tracy turned down an offer from Lockhart to speak at the hearing Friday. The case is scheduled for jury selection mid-September. However, Crisp said she, Cobb and Harrelson believe the jury pool should be summoned to the courthouse in early August for preliminary matters and instructions to return in September.

If the jury finds Tracy guilty of Davison’s murder, he faces death or life without the possibility of parole.

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