Man's death sentence
Galveston Daily News
January 23, 2009
A Galveston man convicted of capital murder in
the brutal killing of a college instructor in 1993 will remain on
death row while prosecutors decide whether to appeal the reversal
of his death sentence.
Gaylon George Walbey Jr., 34, was sentenced to
die in the May, 4, 1993, slaying of Marionette Beyah, who had been
his foster mother in 1988 and 1989. Police found Beyah, 46,
bludgeoned to death inside her island home. Police said she
interrupted Walbey's burglary of her residence.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
issued an opinion Monday reversing Walbey's death sentence, citing
ineffectiveness of council during his punishment hearing. As the
reason for the reversal, the court's opinion states defense
attorney Roger Ezell failed to investigate mitigating
circumstances of Walbey's mental state, childhood and a host of
other potentially mitigating circumstances.
Ezell, who works for the appellate division of
the Galveston County District Attorney's Office, said Thursday he
disagreed with the court's decision and would have no part in the
state's proceedings regarding Walbey.
Reasons For Reversal
The court stated Ezell waited until the week
before the hearing to prepare for Walbey's punishment phase and
only skimmed the records provided by the district attorney on
Ezell failed to contact potential witnesses,
namely Walbey's mother, and others who had direct knowledge of
Walbey’s "troubled" childhood, the opinion states.
Ezell also didn’t probe Walbey's relationship
to Beyah, even though there were no impediments to conducting an
investigation or to hiring a mitigation expert, the opinion states.
The appeal of Walbey’s death sentence has been
ongoing for 14 years, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and
a federal appeals court judge upheld the death sentence, Ezell
Guilty Plea Withdrawn
Walbey originally agreed to plead guilty in
exchange for a life sentence, but changed his mind, Ezell said.
"There was a prisoner from death row at the
court house for a hearing, and they put him in the same holding
cell with the prisoner," Ezell said. "The guy talked him (Walbey)
into rolling the dice. That prisoner now of course has been
The appeals court ordered a new punishment
phase of Walbey's capital trial or the imposition of the
appropriate noncapital alternative sentence.
Joel Bennett, 1st-assistant criminal district
attorney for Galveston County, said no decision has been made on
whether to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The state has 14 days to decide whether to ask
the appeals court to reconsider its opinion or 90 days to ask the
U.S. Supreme Court to review the case, said Tom Kelley, a
spokesman for the Texas Attorney General.
Gaylon George Walbey