5-3 ruling tosses conviction, death sentence
By Chuck Lindell
Cathy Lynn Henderson, once just two days from execution for the 1994 death of an infant she was baby-sitting in her Pflugerville-area home, was granted a new trial Wednesday by a sharply divided Court of Criminal Appeals.
The 5-3 ruling tossed out Henderson’s capital murder conviction and death sentence, returning the case to Travis County, where pros- ecutors will determine what charge she will face — and whether to seek the death penalty or life in prison if it’s capital murder — in a retrial likely to begin sometime next year.
Writing in support of a new trial, appeals court Judge Cathy Cochran said scientiflc advances in the fleld of pediatric head injuries have raised doubts about testimony from prosecution experts who said 3-month-old Brandon Baugh’s injuries could only be explained by Henderson inten- tionally slamming him into the concrete floor of her home.
“Changing science has cast doubt on the accuracy of the original jury verdict” and deprived Henderson of “a fundamentally fair trial based upon reliable scientiflc evidence,” Cochran wrote. “This ... is a case that should be retried to ensure the accuracy of our verdicts and the integrity of our system.”
In a bluntly worded dissent,