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Michael Roy TONEY

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 
Classification: Murderer?
Characteristics: Falsely convicted - Miscarriage of justice
Number of victims: 3 ?
Date of murders: November 28, 1985
Date of arrest: December 4, 1997 (14 years later)
Date of birth: December 29, 1965
Victims profile: Joe Blount, 42, his daughter, Angela, 15, and his nephew, Michael Columbus, 18
Method of murder: Bombing (briefcase bomb)
Location: Tarrant County, Texas, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on June 10, 1999. Sentence overturned December 17, 2008. Released on September 2, 2009. Died in a tragic auto accident just one month later on October 3, 2009
 
 
 
 
 
 
photo gallery
 
 
 
 
 
 
Name TDCJ Number Date of Birth
Toney, Michael Roy 999314 12/29/1965
Date Received Age (when Received) Education Level
06/10/1999 33 10
Date of Offense Age (at the Offense) County
11/28/1985 19 Tarrant
Race Gender Hair Color
White Male Brown
Height Weight Eye Color
5' 7" 172 Hazel
Native County Native State Prior Occupation
Shasta California carpenter, laborer
Prior Prison Record


TDCJ-ID #526889 on an 8-year sentence for 1 count of Burglary of a Habitation; 07/23/90 released on Parole; 09/13/91 returned from Parole with new conviction of 7 years concurrent for 1 count of Unauthorized Use of a Motor Vehicle; 8/21/92 released on Parole; 3/1/94 returned from Parole with a new conviction of 5 years for Theft of Property $750/20,000; 07/21/95 released on Mandatory Supervision; 04/24/97 returned from Mandatory Supervision with new conviction and new number, remainder of sentence as TDCJ-ID #526889 is current; #782203 on a 5-year sentence for 1 count of Burglary of a Habitation; 06/09/97 released on Bench Warrant; 12/11/97 returned from Bench Warrant ; 01/06/98 released on Bench Warrant; 01/09/98 new commitments received sentence begin date 07/13/93 on a 9-year sentence for Burglary of a Habitation; 08/11/98 returned from Bench Warrant; 08/21/98 departed on Mandatory Supervision.
 

Summary of incident


On 11/28/85 in Lake Worth 2 males and 1 female died as a result of a briefcase bomb. Another male and female were injured by the explosion.
 

Co-defendants
None
Race and Gender of Victim
2 males and 1 female
 
 
 
 
 
 

Michael Roy Toney (December 29, 1965- October 3, 2009), in 1999, was falsely convicted and charged for a bombing that killed two males and one female in Lake Worth, Texas in 1985. The incident also injured another male and female.

He was sentenced to the death penalty and served ten years on death row before being released on September 2, 2009, when the State of Texas dropped all charges against him. The Conviction was overturned December 17, 2008 by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. He died in a tragic auto accident near Rusk, Texas just one month later on October 3, 2009.

Toney's Life

Toney grew up in Cottonwood, California, a small town that was about 90 miles away from Sacramento. His father left the family early in his life and his mother worked in local taverns. She would bring home a number of men who would beat her and her sons. To escape from this, Michael would often retreat to a shed. When Toney was 9 or 10 years old, one of her boyfriends strapped him to a chair, duct-taped his wrists down and set fire to his hands.

When he was 15, another one of his mother's boyfriends attacked him with a fishing gaff and gouged a huge hole in his hip. He quit school before the 10th grade and left for Texas, settling down in Hurst-Euless, Bedford area of Tarrant County. He married a woman named Kim when he was 38 years old.

On the Saturday morning of October 3, 2009, Toney lost control of a pickup truck he was driving, causing it to roll over and ejecting Toney from the vehicle. There was no one else in the car.

History of the Case

On the evening of Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1985, in the Hilltop Mobile Home Park between Lake Worth and Azle, Texas, three members of the Blount family were instantly killed by an explosion. Joe Blount, his daughter Angela, and Angela's cousin, Michael Columbus, were killed when a bomb that was in a briefcase exploded. The briefcase was reportedly found on or near the steps of their home. Joe Blount was a 44-year-old skilled mechanic. Angela Blount was only 15 years old and Michael Columbus was 18.

How it happened

Joe Blount, Angela Blount, Robert Blount, Michael Columbus, Susan Blount and Carl "Ray" Blount celebrated Thanksgiving together in the Blount's trailer in the suburbs of Fort Worth, Texas. Robert was the son of Susan and Joe Blount. Carl "Ray" was the brother of Joe Blount. Michael Columbus was Carl's long-estranged son.

After the family ate Thanksgiving dinner, Ray Blount went home around 5:00 p.m. Around 9:00 p.m., Susan Blount went to lie down for a nap. Joe Blount drove Robert, Angela and Michael to a convenience store about half a mile away from the park where they bought snacks and beer. Susan Blount soon heard a knock at the front door. She looked out the window but did not see anybody she returned to her nap. When the rest of family returned from the convenience store, they discovered a briefcase on the doorstep. The three teenagers were excited because they thought that the briefcase might have either money or jewels in it. After bringing the briefcase inside, Angela opened the latches and it exploded.

Toney's conviction

In June 1997, Toney was in jail awaiting a hearing for a burglary that happened in 1993. Here he was talking Charles "Jack" Ferris in Parker County Jail in Weatherford Texas. The two men began talking about the bombing. Ferris was then released from jail by telling the Parker County authorities that Toney had confessed to him. After Ferris told the authorities, the investigators question Toney's ex-wife. In the beginning, Ms. Toney told prosecutors "Michael killing people in a bombing? You're nuts". But Ms. Toney decided to do some research on the case. When she realized what had taken place, she called federal agents and told her story. Soon after, Toney was indicted for capital murder.

Months had passed, and Ferris had changed his story about Toney's alleged confession to the crime. Ferris explained how Toney had come up with the story in order to him out of jail earlier. He told investigators that "Toney and me made up the entire thing".

The Trial

The started in May 1999, in Fort Worth, Texas. Susan and Robert Blount gave their testimony as to what happened that day. Then the testimony from his ex-wife, his ex-best friend and another cellmate occurred. His ex-wife (Ms.Toney), said that her, Toney and his best friend Chris Meeks went to a propane shop that was adjacent to the Hilltop Mobile Home Park. She says that Toney got out of the truck with a briefcase and disappeared. She then says he returned without the briefcase and then they went to the Nature Center and stayed for several hours. Her testimony also included that Toney shot a beaver with a rifle while they were at the Nature Center.

A cellmate of Michael Toney, Finis Blankenship, testified that Toney told him that he was paid $5,000 for the murders. Blankenship also said that Toney the murders were part of a drug-related hit but the bomb was put on the wrong doorstep. His testimony came in the second phase of the trial, this helped the jury decide whether Toney deserved to be executed. This testimony showed the jury that Toney had a motive for the crime. At the current time, Blankenship was facing two counts of indecency with a child and habitual-criminal charges so he says that he agreed to testify against Toney in exchange for having the charges dropped. Blankenship now says that his testimony was a lie.Chris Meeks testimony didn't coincide with all of Ms. Toney's testimony in many ways. Meeks changed his story four times. At first he told investigators that he knew nothing about the bombing as well as the Grand Jury. He also failed a polygraph test. In 2001, he signed an affidavit taking back the things he said during his testimony. He says that "My testimony about the events that happened on Thanksgiving day, 1985, may not have happened on that day."

Toney's Alibi

  • He said that he did not hear about the crime until 1997 (8 years after it occurred).

  • He said that he had never been to the Hilltop Mobile Home Park and that he didn't he even know it existed until just prior to his trial.

  • Ms. Toney and Mr. Meeks says that Toney was driving a truck on the night of the bombing. However, Toney says that he didn't buy the truck until December 13, 1985 (a month after the incident).

Convicion Overturned

The Tarrant County District Attorney's Office had withheld 14 pieces of evidence that were key to his defense. After this, Tarrant County prosecutors turned the case over to the Attorney General of Texas.

Wikipedia.org

 
 

Former death row inmate freed after conviction overturned

Michael Roy Toney convicted in 1985 Thanksgiving bombing deaths

By Jeff Carlton - Statesman.com

September 4, 2009

DALLAS An inmate once on death row in Texas was a free man Thursday, nine months after his conviction was overturned in the 1985 bombing deaths of three people on Thanksgiving.

The Texas attorney general's office dropped the charges against Michael Roy Toney, 43, on Wednesday, and that night he was released from the Tarrant County Jail in Fort Worth, officials said.

His release came a day before the attorney general had to declare whether the state would again seek the death penalty in the case.

State prosecutor Adrienne McFarland said in a dismissal motion that there was not enough time to complete an independent investigation before the Thursday deadline. The state can refile charges if the investigation warrants it.

In a statement released Thursday through his attorney, Toney thanked his friends, family and lawyers for their support.

"I have said all along that I was innocent of these charges and I know that when the Attorney General reviews the evidence, it will show that I am indeed innocent," he said.

Toney was convicted of a 1985 Thanksgiving night bombing.

Angela Blount, 15, found a suitcase on the porch of her home, took it inside and opened it. A bomb exploded, killing her, along with her father, Joe Blount, 44, and her cousin Michael Columbus, 18. Her mother and 14-year-old brother survived.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in December that the lead prosecutor withheld evidence that could have helped Toney during his 1999 trial, an assertion the district attorney's office didn't dispute.

In January, the district attorney's office recused itself from the case "to avoid the appearance of impropriety," said District Attorney Joe Shannon.

The attorney general's office then took over and reopened an investigation.

Toney remained in jail until Wednesday because charges were still pending. He also had to post $25,000 bail on an unrelated charge out of Polk County because he allegedly had a cell phone on death row.

Susan Blount, whose husband and daughter were killed in the bombing, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that the attorney general's office notified her about Toney's release.

"They wanted to let me know so I wouldn't be surprised," Blount said. "They have indicated that it is still their intent to retry the case but they needed more time to go over all the information and evidence.

 
 

Michael R. Toney case account

As told to Justice Denied Magazine by Michael Tony

Edited by Clara A. Thomas Boggs

Justice: Denied -- The Magazine for the Wrongly Convicted

Convicted by lies, Michael Toney tells his story with a plea for help to save him from being killed by the state of Texas. If you are persuaded that he is innocent, please help.

My name is Michael Roy Toney. I'm on Texas death row awaiting execution. I was convicted in May of 1999 of a bombing that occurred in Lake Worth, Texas on November 28th, 1985. This terrible crime took the lives of three people. Their names are Joe Blount, 42 years old, his 15-year-old daughter, Angela, and his nephew, Michael Columbus, who was 18 years old.

This bombing happened on the evening of Thanksgiving 1985 and the crime went unsolved for 14 years. The crime is still unsolved but the case has been closed because of my conviction. To say my conviction and subsequent death sentence is a miscarriage of justice would be a definite understatement. I AM INNOCENT and can prove it!

Shouldn't every effort be made to keep an innocent man from being put to death? I don't like to use the word executed because it's not an execution when the person being put to death is innocent. It's MURDER! Shouldn't every effort be made to bring the true murderers to justice? I hope the things I'm going to tell you in this letter cause you to answer yes to both of these questions.

The crime I've been convicted of, and sentenced to death for, is a briefcase bombing on a home in Lake Worth, Texas. This crime was the longest running investigation in the history of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. It was featured on the television shows "America's Most Wanted" and "Unsolved Mysteries."

The reports say someone put a briefcase on the Blount family's porch and they carried it inside and opened it. When it was opened, it exploded and they were killed. There were two survivors, Joe's wife, Susan, and their son, Robert. During the long investigation, no motive was determined and no arrests were made. At least not until my indictment and arrest on December 4th, 1997.

During the charade of a trial, no motive was proven. I say charade of a trial because that's exactly what it was. The entire trial centered on lies. I'll get to that later. There were only theories as to why the bombing happened and no evidence to support any theory.

Since the trial, I have received numerous letters from people saying they know I'm innocent because they know who really did the bombing and why it was done. Yes, I have learned who really did the crime and why they did it. The real murderers will remain free to commit more murders if I don't somehow get people to listen to my pleas and get the investigation reopened.

I spent Thanksgiving 1985 at my friend, Chris Meek's, home in Keller, Texas. Present that day were Chris, his mother, his stepfather, his girlfriend and I. That evening I received a phone call from my girlfriend, Kim, who I later married on March 4th, 1986. We divorced in 1989. Kim called to tell me she was leaving her family get together and was going to her apartment. We had agreed to meet at her apartment that evening. I got in my car and left Keller by myself. Chris stayed home with his family. Kim and I had just met less then a month prior so we were still in the phase of our relationship where we spent about every minute we could together.

I have to jump ahead to 1997 now. In June of 1997, I met a man named Bennie Joe Toole. This was actually the second time we had met. We first met in 1990 but we didn't realize that until we talked for a little while. Bennie was telling me about a polygraph test he had just taken regarding the Lake Worth bombing. I believe I asked him what that was all about. He said that he and his friend, Mikey Huff, were suspects in a briefcase bombing in Lake Worth. At this point, I'm all ears because I hadn't heard about any bombing other than the Oklahoma City bombing. Mr. Toole later said that he told me about it in 1990 when we first met. To this day, I don't remember him telling me about it prior to June of 1997. Toole went on to tell me that "someone had dropped a briefcase off on someone's porch in Lake Worth and that it exploded killing the whole family." He didn't give me any more details. It was all new to me. I hadn't heard about it on the news or read about it.

The following month, I told a man named Charles Ferris everything that Toole had told me. To make a very long story a little shorter, on December 4th, 1997, I was indicted for capital murder of multiple victims in regard to the bombing. When the ATF agent and the Texas investigators served me with the indictment, I told them the exact truth. I told them about what Mr. Toole had told me and that I didn't know anything other than what he told me.

At that point, I was in shock and couldn't believe what was happening. I especially couldn't believe that I had been indicted of something another man told me about. I didn't even know where in Lake Worth the crime happened or that it happened in 1985. They asked me where I was on November 28th, 1985. I couldn't remember where I was 12 years prior. I wasn't even sure if I was in the state of Texas or if I was still working in Alaska. It took me a few days to put things together and get over the shock of being indicted for capital murder and the fact that I was facing the death penalty. I finally realized that I had returned to Texas in October of 1984. I had to find a major event in my memory that happened after I came to Texas and then organize dates around that. I knew it was around Halloween when I came back to Texas but I wasn't sure what year it was. I remembered the Delta flight 191 crash at DFW airport. That stuck in my mind because I was close by when it happened and it left a serious imprint on my memory. I knew it happened in the summer because it was really hot and it was my first summer back in Texas. I did a little research and found out the crash happened on August 5th, 1985 which meant I had come back to Texas in October of 1984. That made it clear that I was in Texas when the bombing happened.

When I told the investigators that a man named Toole told me about the bombing, it was obvious that they were surprised or angered by that information. I think back on it now and I believe they were surprised because of the fact that Toole had been a suspect. I told the investigators that I was willing to take a polygraph or whatever it took to prove I didn't know anything about the bombing.

A few days later on a Friday evening about 9 p.m., they brought Mr. Toole to the jail. When I saw him, I was happy and said, "Yes, I told you I was telling the truth. That's the man that told me about the bombing." Mr. Toole looked at me, shook his head yes and said "Yeah that's him. I told him about it."

The following Monday evening, they took me to Dallas to a man named John Lehmon's office. He was a forensic psychologist and polygraph examiner. When we first got there, I met my attorney and filled out a questionnaire that asked me about my health, what medications I took and some other personal questions. After that, my attorney and I went into another office and went over the paper work that had to do with the test. It seemed like this took about two hours. I know it was getting pretty late. We waited for them to prepare the test.

Finally, they came and took me into another office where the polygraph machine was. I sat down in the examining chair and Mr. Lehmon said he'd be right back, walked out and shut the door behind him. I sat there and looked around the room and realized they were watching me on closed circuit television. The camera was mounted in the corner. After about ten to fifteen minutes, Mr. Lehmon came back in and sat down like we were about to start the test. He said something like, "There's more to this then what someone told you" and went on to tell me all about his credentials and how he would get to the truth. I remember saying "I'm counting on that and I'm ready to take the test." These aren't exact quotes but they are close. The next thing he said was something like "I believe you'd be a fascinating subject and I would really like to get to know you but I'm sorry I can't test you." He then got up and walked out of the room. I never saw him again. The investigators told us they needed a doctor's release before they could test me. I got the release the next day but to this day, I've never been tested.

About 18 months later the trial started. During the eighteen months before the trial, I had investigators and my attorney try to locate my ex-wife, Kim, and my old friend, Chris Meeks. I hadn't seen Kim since 1989 and I hadn't seen Chris since the spring of 1986. I thought for sure if we could find them the whole matter would be resolved. I thought they would tell the truth and the whole nightmare would be over. Boy, was I ever wrong!

Kim and Chris were the State's star witnesses. They were the entire case. Kim testified that when the ATF agents first questioned her, she didn't know anything about the bombing and just like me hadn't heard about it. She said, "Mike never mentioned it and I don't know anything."

A few weeks after investigators questioned her, she went to the public library and read all the old news stories about the bombing. Kim said that while she was reading the newspapers she realized that the bombing happened within a couple miles of a place that we went fishing. She called the ATF back and told them about going fishing at the nature center in Lake Worth. I can't quote her exact trial testimony but it went something like this:

"On the night of Thanksgiving 1985, Mike and Chris came to my apartment and we decided to go fishing. We all got in the truck and went to Lake Worth. When we got there, we stopped at a propane place and Mike got out and got a briefcase from under the toolbox that was in the bed of the truck. He walked off with the briefcase and came back without it. We then went down the road into the nature center where we hung out for a few hours until after midnight. Just before we left there was a splashing noise in the water so Mike and Chris went and got their rifles out and Mike shot a beaver, then we left."

Under cross-examination, she said that she didn't hear any sirens, see any emergency vehicles or hear an explosion; nor did she ever see a bomb. Why didn't she hear an explosion or hear sirens, etc? I'll tell you exactly why not!

1. We didn't go fishing on Thanksgiving.

2. We didn't even leave her apartment on the night of Thanksgiving.

What else is wrong with her testimony?

1. I didn't have the truck on November 28th, 1985. I didn't get it until December.

2. According to the National Weather Service, November 28th, 1985 was the coldest day of November. The high was 42 degrees and the low was 31 degrees with winds up to 15 miles per hour.

3. The two rifles weren't purchased until December 18th and December 19th, 1985, per ATF gun register records.

4. The toolbox that she said was on the truck was bought for my birthday on December 29th, 1985, per check records.

At this point, it's pretty clear what I'm getting at but I will explain anyway. We didn't go fishing on the night of Thanksgiving. I don't know anyone that would. It's not even possible for things to happen the way Kim said. We couldn't go to the lake in a truck that didn't exist at the time. I couldn't get a briefcase out from under a toolbox that was in the bed of a truck that didn't yet exist and I sure couldn't shoot a beaver with a gun that didn't exist yet. It just doesn't make sense for anyone to "hang out" at the lake for hours in the middle of the night when it's 30 some degrees.

We did go to Lake Worth Nature Center and go fishing one night but it wasn't on Thanksgiving. How can I be so sure about something that happened so long ago? It's simple. The records prove I'm telling the truth. When we did go to the lake, it was in the truck that we got in December. I did shoot a beaver with the Ruger model 10/22 that was bought on December 19th, 1985. I didn't know it was a beaver at the time. I thought it was a muskrat or a nutria rat.

Chris Meeks' testimony was different from Kim's but it did corroborate her testimony. They both committed perjury and got an innocent man sentenced to death for a crime another man told him about. Chris couldn't answer a single question without looking to one of his three statements as if they were a script. He didn't have any idea what was going on and he was scared to death. Somehow he was forced to testify falsely. By whom, I'm not positive but I have a good idea.

I was convicted of a crime another man told me about. I was convicted solely by the lies of two people. Perjured testimony got me sentenced to death.

If you're like most people, you're thinking why would someone voluntarily lie and get an innocent man sentenced to death. This is where I have to speculate on a few things. I have a few different theories but one of them seems to prove more correct than the others.

I think Kim talked to her boyfriend after the ATF interviewed her and they went together to the library. I think they may have even gone to the scene of the crime to put a story together. I think the agents told her about the substantial reward and she relayed that information to her boyfriend and he talked her into lying for the reward. I'm speculating when I say that but that's the only thing that makes sense. Some of the things she said were absolute lies. For instance the briefcase. I didn't own a briefcase until 1988 or 1989 and everything she said about stopping at a propane place is a complete lie.

I've never in my life been to the place where this crime happened. I didn't even find out exactly where it happened until just before my trial. What really confuses me is why Chris Meeks lied. I don't understand that at all. The only explanation is that he just went along with whatever the investigators said. The only way I can see that happening is if he was somehow threatened.

After the trial and after I was sentenced to death, Kim brought my twelve year old daughter to the jail to see me. It was a very intense emotional experience for me because I hadn't seen her in ten years. I had tried everything to see her but couldn't ever find her. The first thing Kim said to me during the visit was "I don't love you anymore." I was thinking to myself, that's pretty obvious. She then said, "I know you're not a murderer. I just assumed you did it because they told me you were a suspect and we went fishing at Lake Worth. I could be wrong about the date we went to Lake Worth but there's nothing I can do about it now."

I think she justified what she did by the fact that I was such a terrible husband. I was abusive and ran around all the time. I was only 19 years old when we got married. I was way too young to get married because I was so nave and immature. I came from a real small town and being in the city made me feel like I needed to run around all the time.

THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT PART.

Since the trial, my family and I have received numerous phone calls and letters from people saying they know I'm innocent because they know who did the bombing and why it was done. I believe the fact that no one could ever determine the motive is the reason they couldn't solve the crime. I've been in contact with these people who wrote and called my family. They have told me what the motive was, who did it and why the motive was never determined. Yes, I have learned who the real murderers are but they will remain free to commit more murders unless the investigation is reopened. No one will listen to me because the case has been closed. The case has been closed but the crime was not solved. The people who committed this terrible crime live in the Fort Worth area. As far as I am concerned, no one is safe until the real murderers are brought to justice. I'm doing everything I can to try to make that happen. The Blount family deserves to know the truth and they deserve the real murderers to be brought to justice.

I've never in my life been to the scene of this crime. I didn't know the victims. I've never even seen a bomb. I told the exact truth but it didn't make any difference. I'm only 34 years old. In 1985, I would have been only 19 years old. When they first accused me, I thought it was absolutely ludicrous. It defies common sense. I believe the State and the ATF used me as a pawn to close a case they couldn't solve.

Well, I'm not going to sit back and let them murder an innocent man if I can help it. I will do everything I can to expose the TRUTH and bring the true murderers of the Blount family to justice, TRUE JUSTICE.

If there is anyone out there who cares enough to stop the murder of an innocent man, help expose the TRUTH and bring the TRUE murderers of the Blount family to justice, please join my struggle and help me.

I am in a desperate situation. I'm SCARED beyond description. I don't want to be put to death for a crime I knew nothing about.

Please help me. I may not be a perfect person but I'm not a murderer. I've been in a lot of trouble since 1989 but nothing like this. PLEASE HELP ME EXPOSE THE TRUTH.

Sincerely & respectfully,
Michael R. Toney

Michael "Cowboy" Toney
Rt. 6 Ellis #314
Huntsville, TX 77343

 

 

 
 
 
 
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