Robert Gene Will was convicted in the 2000 slaying of Deputy Sheriff Barrett Hill in Harris County, Texas. Will and another man, Michael Rosario, were caught trying to break into a car in December 2000. Both men fled, but Will says he was apprehended and placed in handcuffs by police. That’s when someone shot Deputy Sheriff Hill.
Will says that the shooter couldn’t have been him, on account of his hands literally being tied behind his back. And his lawyers argue that Rosario, the accomplice in the attempted car burglary, has admitted to at least five people that he was the one who pulled the trigger that morning.
The Houston Chronicle reports that U.S. District Judge, Keith Ellison, who denied Will’s appeal on a technicality, expressed doubts regarding Will’s guilt and called for further review, saying:
Unfortunately, the court is powerless to address the merits of additional claims raised post-judgment, unsettling though they are.
Texas has a long history of executing its own citizens, including a few in which reasonable doubt was certainly present. Aside from the fact that the death penalty does not work as a deterrent and is more expensive to the state than life imprisonment, all signs point to Robert Gene Will deserving a chance at life.