More shennanigans from Harris County; the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay of execution for a man convicted of murder back in 2000. Bernardo Tercero was trying to rob a dry cleaners, at gunpoint. Please understand, I cannot even pretend to have sympathy for him; he put innocent people’s lives at risk for the sake of $400, and robbed his victim’s family of their husband and father.
That being said, his current attorney says that a witness used against him, Sylvia Cotera, may have been coerced into testifying against him.
“He said he located Cotera and obtained her new sworn statement after seeing references to her comments in 2000 in the files of Tercero's first lawyer. In that first interview, Cotera claimed that in a meeting with prosecutors she was "constantly told that if she didn't cooperate she would be placed in jail."
The article rather obtusely points out that Tercero’s attorney does not have any evidence that prosecutors knew Cotera’s testimony may have been a lie. I suppose it’s possible that one could threaten a person into telling a story that serves your purposes, and then claim you had no idea it was false. Possible, but unlikely.
Idalia Toruno, an accomplice in the case, claimed that the prosecutor threatened her with jail time if she testified in Tercero’s favor. Two other prosecutors who were present during the incident denied it had happened. I don’t really see a good guy in this case; Bernardo Tercero is a bad guy, as are any prosecutors who used perjury to convict him. In this situation nobody wins, no matter the outcome.
Just another day in the Harris County Criminal Justice System.