WACO (August 20 2010)—High-profile Houston lawyer Richard “Racehorse” Haynes withdrew Friday as the attorney for Darlene Gentry, the Robinson woman who’s seeking a new trial after she was sentenced to 60 years in prison in 2007 for the November 2005 shooting death of her husband.
Gentry was scheduled to appear in court Friday on a motion seeking the recusal of Waco State District Judge Ralph Strother from hearing her appeal, but the hearing was postponed.
Strother presided over Gentry’s original trial.
A law professor has reportedly offered to represent Gentry through the Innocence Project, which focuses on winning the exoneration of inmates who were wrongfully convicted.
In June 2008, the 10th Court of Appeals in Waco upheld Gentry’s conviction, but this June, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered Strother to hold a hearing on her claims that she had ineffective counsel at trial and on appeal, and that prosecutors elicited perjured testimony and withheld evidence from the defense.
“(Gentry) has alleged facts that, if true, might entitle her to relief,” the court ruled.
Before a hearing on her claims could be held, Gentry filed the recusal motion, arguing that Strother is biased against her.
In her appeal, her attorneys had argued that videotape played during the trial that showed Gentry wading in a rural pond where investigators found the .22 caliber handgun that prosecutors said was used in the killing violated her rights.
The videotape was recorded by two Texas Rangers after the owner of the rural property, Robert Pavelka notified authorities about a remark Gentry made during an earlier visit to the property, which she had expressed an interest in buying.
He said she told him as she was leaving that the stock tank should be back-filled with dirt.
The defense had tried unsuccessfully before the start of the trial to have the videotape excluded.
Prosecutors believed Gentry used the gun to shoot her husband in the back of the head on Nov. 9, 2005 at the couple’s home in Robinson and then later threw it into the pond.
A Department of Public Safety firearms expert testified during the trial that a .22 caliber bullet fired from the recovered handgun was similar to the .22 caliber bullet that killed Keith Gentry, but said he could not establish an exact match.
Darlene Gentry originally told investigators she found her husband lying in a pool of blood between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. on Nov. 9, 2005 after going to check on a noise in the kitchen of the family’s home at 531 E. Moonlight Dr. in Robinson.
But prosecutors say she fired the shot that killed her husband and then tried to make it appear that there had been a break-in at the couple’s home before calling police.