Fourth Plinth Becomes Platform in Execution Debate
Regardless of your opinion on the death penalty (and mine, if you care, is that it's a worse crime than murder because it's a brutal act of revenge posing as justice), there are circumstances in Carty's case that smack of the "rush to kill 'em" style jurisprudence we've come to expect from Texas.
A British woman who is on death row in Texas will today appeal to the government to help her avoid execution via Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth.
Linda Carty, a 50-year-old former primary school teacher, was sentenced to death in 2002 after being convicted of taking part in the murder of 25-year-old Joana Rodriguez.
Her family and campaigners claim she was not properly represented at her original trial and that she is innocent of the crime for which she was convicted.
Carty will "appear" on the London monument as part of the artist Antony Gormley's One & Other Exhibition, using the platform to call on the British public and the government to intervene to help save her from lethal injection.
A life-sized cardboard cutout of her will stand on the platform from 10am until 11am, and a recorded message from her will also be played.
In the message, she says: "Time is now running out, and I appeal to every one of you and to the British government to please help me.
"I'm sorry if I sound like a desperate woman. I am desperate, because the British people may be my last hope. If they ask for my life to be spared, maybe Texas will listen."
Earlier this year, the Foreign Office intervened in the legal process, filing an amicus brief to the US appeals court which complained of lack of notification of Carty's original arrest in 2001 and "ineffective counsel".
Carty was born on the Caribbean island of St Kitts to parents from the British overseas territory of Anguilla. She holds a UK dependent territory passport.
As such, her arrest should have been notified to the British embassy under a long-standing agreement.
However, her state-appointed lawyer did not inform her of her right to seek assistance from the British consulate – one of a catalogue of errors, supporters claim.
In fact, the more you know about the case, the more it seems the prosecution was authoring a farce:
As there's no way to undo an execution, and as 100% proof of a crime is impossible, the death penalty remains to my mind a barbaric over-reaction to violence. Wanting it is excusable from members of the family wronged, perhaps, but cynical and icily heartless by a system tasked with being objective.
The crime took place on 16 May 2001, when three men broke into the apartment of [25-year-old Joana] Rodriguez and her partner Raymundo Cabrera, demanding drugs and cash. They abducted Rodriguez and her four-day-old son, Ray, who was later found unharmed in a car, while Rodriguez had suffocated.
The prosecution’s rather implausible theory was that Linda was afraid of losing her common-law husband and thought that if she had another baby he would stay. Unable to get pregnant, they allege she had hired three men to kidnap Rodriguez and that she planned to steal the child - a baby of a different race to Linda.
Linda's court-appointed lawyer was Jerry Guerinot, whose incompetence has already led to twenty of his clients ending up on death row, more than any other defence lawyer in the US. His approach to her case was at best, slapdash, at worst, wilfully inept.
Guerinot's catalogue of serious failings in Linda's case includes: failure to meet Linda until immediately before the trial, failure to inform Linda or her husband of their rights; failure to spot obvious flaws and inconsistencies in the prosecution case; failure to interview witnesses; and failure to investigate key mitigating evidence.
Even if Carty is guilty of this crime, the death penalty is not IMO justice. It's vengance and, as such, beneath any civilized nation.