The Case Story

On Thanksgiving evening, November 28, 1985, an explosion rocked the Hilltop Mobile Home Park at 7800 Jacksboro Highway between Lake Worth and Azle, Texas. The horrendous explosion and fireball instantly killed three members of the Blount family: Joe Blount, his daughter Angela, and Angela’s cousin, Michael Columbus.

To this day, no one has been able to say why.

Like waves of others, the Blount’s came to North Texas seeking a fresh start and respite from tough times.  They had driven from the Seattle, Washington area in July 1985, four of them in the family’s station wagon without air conditioning.  Their clothes, dishes, blankets, and assorted personal effects bounced behind them in a U-Haul trailer.

Forty-four year old Joe Blount did most of the driving.  He was a big guy, an amiable man and a skilled mechanic, who had trouble holding a steady job.  He drank too much beer.

Fifteen-year-old Angela Blount and her thirteen-year-old brother Robert rode in the back seat.  She was happy and talkative with long brown hair and freckles. He was quiet and withdrawn, slow to warm to others. His sister was his best friend.

Susan Blount, devout Mormon, precise and strict with her kids, sat in the front passenger seat, watching the landscape fly by, not certain at all about this move to Texas.  The marriage was plagued with rough spots and they were trying to patch it together after a yearlong separation.

The Blount family rented a trailer at lot number 8 of the Hilltop Mobile Home Park in Lake Worth, a suburb of Fort Worth, Texas.  They had no furniture, so they slept on the floor.  Mr. Blount got work at a nearby auto transmission shop.  He said, “I’ve finally found a home. I want to work for these guys forever,” Mrs. Blount now recalls.  “This was the most wonderful sound I had ever heard.”  She desired only one thing, she says: “I just wanted life to be stable.”

Thanksgiving day dinner, she hoped would create some of that stability.  One of the guests was Mr. Blount’s brother, Carl “Ray” Blount, whom Mrs. Blount strongly disliked.  “Ray had been a sore spot in the marriage for a long time,” she says. But he was family, so she vowed to make the best of it for the holiday. Another Thanksgiving guest was Ray’s long-estranged son, Michael Columbus, an 18-year old studying airplane mechanics in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  His mother had worried about him making the trip to North Texas. Mrs. Blount promised her that nothing bad would happen.

The Blount’s had managed to rent some furniture but still didn’t have enough for a big gathering, so Joe Blount borrowed some chairs from the transmission shop waiting room.  They ate turkey and dressing off plates balanced on their knees. The day passed pleasantly.  Ray Blount and his son even had reconciliation.  Mr. Columbus was so pleased about it that after dinner, he called his mother to tell her how happy he was.  Ray Blount left to go home around 5 P.M.  Around 9 P.M. Mrs. Blount went to her bedroom to lie down for a nap.

Robert, Angela and Michael Columbus piled into the station wagon, and Joe Blount drove them to a convenience store about a half a mile away.  They bought snacks and he bought beer.  While they were gone, Mrs. Blount heard a knock at the front door.  “I got up and looked out the window and saw no one,” she said.  It was the last act of her normal life.

When the rest of the family returned, they found a black briefcase.  Angela said it might have jewels in it. Robert thought maybe it had money in it. They brought it inside.  The three teenagers bubbled with excitement.  Not Joe, who had been around long enough to know that you didn’t just come home one night and find a treasure chest, but he went along with the fun.

Angela sat on the couch and tripped the latches.   What happened next took milliseconds.

The explosion sent parts of the briefcase and its contents flying 2,000 feet a second, about twice as fast as a bullet from a handgun.  The same blast simultaneously ignited a container of gasoline in the briefcase, creating a fireball. One neighbor said it sounded like a cannon.

A government explosives expert would later testify, “an extremely violent weapon designed to kill human beings and it worked to perfection.”

The noise startled Mrs. Blount from her sleep in the back bedroom.  She thought it was another B-52 making a low approach for nearby Carswell Air Force Base.   Sometimes they roared overhead all night long.  She opened the bedroom door and was met with smoke.  She walked down the hallway, the floor so hot it burned her feet.  She peered toward the living room.  “I could see Joe’s body,” she recalls now.  “It was lying on the floor in front of the TV, burning.”  The heat drove her back.  She escaped through the trailer’s back door.  The night was bitterly cold.  She struggled to the front yard in her underwear and found neighbors watching in horror as fire consumed the trailer.  “I begged them to go inside and help,” Mrs. Blount says. No one could do anything.

At a neighbor’s house, Mrs. Blount phoned her other daughter, Sheri Godwin, in Washington.  “Everybody’s dead,” she said into the phone.  “Joe, Angela, Robert and Michael. They’re all dead.“  She wasn’t entirely correct.  Fire crews arrived and an officer directed Mrs. Blount to an ambulance.  There she found Robert lying on a stretcher.  His hair was burned off, his flesh scorched, and his clothes and shoes melted to his skin.  But he was alive. The blast had blown him out the door of the trailer. The other three never had a chance.

Why, investigators wanted to know, would someone bomb a family? The first place they searched for answers was the family itself.

Federal Agents pored over Joe Blount’s checkered background. Their conclusion, a memo reported: “He made no enemies and was considered more or less harmless.”

Agents scoured Carl Blount’s past.  They found plenty of unseemly behavior but nothing that would link him to the bombing.

Detectives also took a hard look at Mrs. Blount.  “Every time I turned around, they were pointing fingers at me,” she said.  “I had every kind of question thrown at me. Had I made a bomb?  Did I help anyone make a bomb? They always taped everything I said to see if I changed my story.”  A Sheriff’s Detective asked her whether she had life insurance policies on her daughter and husband.  “I said, yes, I had,” Mrs. Blount recalls.“  He looks at me with a look that says, ’I have you dead to rights, lady.’  He says, ‘How much was the policy?’  He just knows; ‘now we’ve got the murderer.’”  The policy on her husband was for $2,000, and for her daughter $1,000.  “I told him it won’t even pay to bury them,” she says.

Investigators traced the family’s phone calls in the days before the bombing. The records showed calls to friends and relatives but little else. The Fort Worth office of the ATF sent a query to the agency’s Seattle office: “Does any evidence exist regarding possible extramarital affairs on the part of Susan Maureen Blount?”  The Seattle office responded: “No known evidence exists in the Seattle area of any indiscretions.”

Still, Mrs. Blount believed she remained the prime suspect.  “Every night, I thought, ‘They’re going to take you in and lock you up.’ I thought, ‘what is your defense going to be?’ I thought, ‘I have no defense whatsoever.”  Only after she passed a polygraph did the investigative pressure seem to ease. That left her with grief and fear to manage.  “Robert was the sole purpose of me keeping on,” she says.

Mrs. Blount and her son moved into an apartment in Azle. They put their beds next to each other’s.  “We were afraid of every sound,” she recalls. Robert still recovering from skin grafts for his burns had continual nightmares. They were sure that the bomber, whoever he was, would come back to finish the job.  If a car followed her for more than two blocks, Mrs. Blount pulled over and let it pass, then made a U-turn, she recalls. That Christmas, less than a month after the bombing, she and Robert came home to find a box outside their front door.  Just like the briefcase, they thought.  They phoned the police.

It was fudge from church.

Detectives also considered another theory about the bomb; that maybe it had been intended for someone other than the Blount’s. Maybe the killer simply got the wrong address.  Maybe the bomber was really after Wayland Tim Tortella, a jeweler who operated a thriving methamphetamine business from home.  He sold automatic weapons to drug dealers and he was having an affair with a married woman. Because of that, Mr. Tortella later testified, he believed the bomb was meant for him.  Much later, he would write in a letter: “For 14 years I’ve felt that it was my fault that those 3 people died. There is a possibility that if I wasn’t doing what I was doing back then, they would still be alive.”  It might have looked intriguing to investigators, but the lead went nowhere.

Federal and State agents could not establish a solid motive. Nor could they find a promising suspect in an assortment of felons, bomb makers, misfits, satanists and narcotic peddlers whom they interviewed.

In March of 1986, there was an interesting development.  A businessman and member of the Optimist and Bass Clubs in nearby Azle, Douglas Raymond Brown, a former candidate for mayor and owner of Azle Business Machine Products, a man described as an outstanding machinery repairman, was arrested. He had sold an undercover agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) the second of two explosive devices, both delivered in a form they hadn’t requested, a briefcase.  The bombs were similar to the one that killed the Blount’s. Firearms experts said detonation would have caused an explosion, then a fire.  Explosives and chemicals were also discovered in Brown’s office and home.

In a concurrent drug investigation, ten people were arrested for drug trafficking, which was why Azle Police had been watching Brown for five months prior to his arrest. They were unaware that ATF agents had also been investigating Brown for firearm violations. The police believed his business served as an exchange for guns and drugs. However, Police Chief Richard Wilhelm told the Fort Worth Star Telegram that Brown, who was being held without bail at the Tarrant County Jail, was “one of the last persons I’d suspect…” The Tarrant County Sheriff said he was “floored” by the “coincidence.”  Brown was never charged with the bombing.  Two days after his arrest for possessing and delivering and explosive device, he was freed on $10,000 bond.

The ATF raided the Bowie, Texas residence of a man with a history of trading in explosives.  They found grenades, gunpowder and electronic devices used in bomb making.  “Among these items was a roll of gray and white seven-strand copper wire similar to that used in the construction of the device used in the Blount bombing,” an ATF report said.  But agents could find no connection between the man and the Blount’s. He was dismissed after being given a polygraph exam.

One neighbor of the Blount’s, an admitted drug dealer named Darrin Ervin, appeared on the detectives’ radar early on.  ATF agents picked him up at a biker bar in Lake Worth less than a month after the bombing.  Mr. Ervin, then 22, had rented a trailer at lot 2 of the Hilltop - six spaces from the Blount’s – where he sold methamphetamine.  What’s more, he allegedly had a fight with his wife the afternoon of the Blount’ bombing and had fled the scene.  “She done knocked the windshield out of my truck,” Mr. Ervin recalls now.  “So, there are bullets all over the yard. The front door of my trailer was wide open.  You look in the house it’s ransacked. No wonder they wanted to talk to me.” Agents took him to the ATF office in downtown Fort Worth and showed him crime scene photos of the burned corpses. “They were real hard-asses at first. They really thought I had something to do with it,” he says.  “They told me they didn’t care if I did it or not.   They needed to arrest somebody.”  He was released, after a polygraph exam.  If he wasn’t the killer, had his drug business made him the bombing target?  “I can’t see why,” says Mr. Ervin, who is now in prison for theft.   “I did have a connection that I was doing business with in Arkansas. But the last time I seen him, he gave me a sack of dope. I didn’t owe him any money.”

Perhaps the most promising suspect was 15 year old Mikey Huff of Azle, who had been a classmate of Angela Blount. There were rumors that Angela had angered him by spurning advances.  Friends said he was a violent hothead who boasted of worshipping Satan.  He was burglar and drug user.

Anonymous callers told ATF agents that Mr. Huff had bragged of detonating the bomb. His stepfather had found pieces of a bomb in his bedroom.  The stepfather also said that two victor mousetraps – the same kind as the one that triggered the Blount bomb had been stolen from his kitchen.  But once again, investigators could not make a case.

Eleven years passed. Susan and Robert Blount left Texas and headed back to the Seattle area, believing that the murders would never be solved.  Federal authorities weren’t admitting it in public, but their private reports showed that the case was, for all practical purposes, dead.  Each quarterly ATF report on the Blount bombing said the same thing: “No further progress has been made on this investigation,”

In 1996, the Oklahoma City bombing prompted a re-investigation of all unsolved domestic bombings and officials decided to take another try at what was one of the biggest unsolved bombings in the country.  A task force of Federal, State and local authorities was assembled. The classic cold-case investigation in which every piece of evidence was examined as if for the first time.   “I thought it would go nowhere,” says Mike Parrish, a Tarrant County prosecutor assigned to the Task Force.  “Most of these cold cases do.”   A $25,000 reward offer triggered some tipsters, many of whom told investigators to take another look at Mikey Floyd Huff.  Task Force members questioned him repeatedly.  He denied any role in the bombing, he says, but they didn’t seem to believe him.  “It was looking pretty bad there at the end, Mr. Huff says now. “They told me I needed to be spending a lot of time with my kids because I wouldn’t be seeing them for awhile.”

In 1997, the ATF saying Mr. Huff had “emerged as a primary suspect,” tapped his phone. The FBI’s criminal profiling experts were asked to assemble a “personality assessment” of Mr. Huff.  A grand jury began hearing testimony from his friends.  “I considered him a psycho,” one woman told the Grand Jury.  “He said he had a friend that knew how to make homemade bombs…he said, ‘it blew the (Blount) house up.’”

Despite a lengthy investigation, the Grand Jury never indicted Mr. Huff, who today lives in North Texas with his wife and children.

While the Blount’s hoped for a miracle, the task force hoped for a lucky break.  They got it when Michael Toney made the biggest mistake of his life.

Mr. Toney, 41, now finds himself at the end of the line, Death Row in Texas.  He was convicted of using a briefcase bomb in 1985 to murder Joe Blount, Angela Blount and Michael Columbus.

I’m not a bomber,” he insists. “I’ve been a bad person, but I’ve never murdered anyone.”

He has an unlined face and neatly combed brown hair.

Is he lying?

If he is not untruthful about the Blount bombing, he’s not alone.  Two witnesses crucial to his conviction now admit they lied.  One of them has changed his story many times.  Another says he implicated Mr. Toney simply to save his own life.

Despite an extensive investigation, investigators never found any connection between Mr. Toney and the victims or anyone else in the area. They found not one piece of evidence linking him to the crime.  No one saw Mr. Toney deliver a bomb.

He grew up in Cottonwood, California, a small town about 90 miles north of Sacramento.  His father deserted the family early on, and his mother hit the local taverns.  She brought home a succession of men, who beat her and her sons.  Young Michael often escaped by bedding down outdoors or in a shed.

One of his mother’s boyfriends made him sit in a lawn chair and duct-taped his wrists to the armrests, Mr. Toney recalls. The man then sprayed lighter fluid on the boy’s hands and lit them.  “I must have been 9 or 10 at that time,” he says.  “It didn’t burn but a second before he put it out with a towel, but it still hurt like hell. He went back and forth on my hands lighting them and putting it out. The whole time I was screaming and trying to get out of the chair, and he was laughing like the devil himself.”

As a pre-teen he was profoundly affected by the 1978 murder of his friend Annette Selix of Cottonwood.  “For twenty years, I carried the burden of hate on my shoulders,” he said.  “The hate was so strong that I can only describe it as rivaling any love you ever had or can imagine.”

Darrell Keith Rich, of Cottonwood was convicted of murdering Selix and three other young women during the summer of 1978.  He was executed at San Quentin on March 15, 2000.

Mr. Toney and his family were touched by violence again in 1990 when his Aunt, (his father’s twin sister) forty-seven year old Donna Rae Toney Branson of Cottonwood was raped and murdered.  Her killer, James Tulk of Redding, California was convicted of first-degree murder in 1992 and sentenced to death at San Quentin’s death chamber.

When he was 15, Mr. Toney says, another one of his mother’s boyfriend’s attacked him with a fishing gaff, gouging a huge hole in his hip.  It was time to get away, he decided.  He quit school before the 10th grade, and left for Texas.

Eventually, after working in Texas for a time, then Alaska and Hawaii, Mr. Toney settled in the Hurst-Euless, Bedford area of Tarrant County, Texas.  He worked construction and lived in a series of apartments with a revolving cast of women.  He was handsome, the women say now, and the sex was great.

But the slightest provocation would send him into violent rages.  Tammy Reil says he played Russian roulette with her.  She was terrified, she says, but he - like his mother’s boyfriend with the lighter fluid - was laughing.

Mr. Toney left her for the woman he later married.  Kim Toney, 38, lives now in Wisconsin.

Mr. Toney fancied himself a jailhouse lawyer, helping others concoct schemes for special privileges or release.  For example, he showed one inmate how to fake a suicide attempt by hanging.  “It got the inmate, Darryl Gilbreath of Azle, out of jail, because he wasn’t supposed to be there in the first place,“ he says.

In June of 1997, Mr. Toney in jail awaiting a hearing on a 1993 burglary charge – chatted with Charles “Jack” Ferris in the Parker County Jail in Weatherford. Mr. Ferris, now 52, and Mr. Toney got to talking about the Blount bombing.

Mr. Ferris won his release from jail by telling Parker County authorities that Mr. Toney had confessed murders to him.  “I did my best to make the story seem impressive,” Mr. Ferris says.  It was impressive enough to launch the task force investigation into Mr. Toney.  The investigators eventually led them to his ex-wife.  Initially, questions about the bombing made no sense to her.

She told us, ‘Michael killing people in a bombing? You’re nuts,’” recalls prosecutor Parrish.

But Ms. Toney decided to do some research.

 “I’m not dumb – I ran for the library,” she says.  She looked up newspaper accounts of the Blount bombing. It was then, she says, she knew she had been there that night.  “When I realized what took place,” she says, “It’s almost like death to yourself.”  Ms. Toney called federal agents and told her story.  Her ex-husband was soon under indictment for capital murder.

Within months, however, Mr. Ferris recanted his account of the jailhouse confession.  He said Mr. Toney had come up with the story about the Blount bombing as a ruse to get Mr. Ferris out of jail.  Mr. Ferris, says, “I implicated Mr. Toney in a number of murders in hope one of them would get me out of jail.”

Toney and me made up the entire thing,” Mr. Ferris told investigators.

The trial started in May of 1999 in Fort Worth.

Susan Blount testified, telling her story of escaping from the burning trailer out of the back door. Her son Robert told of finding the briefcase, and his sister taking it inside.

Angela flipped the latches and it exploded, and that’s the last I remember,” Mr. Blount testified.  “There isn’t a day that goes by,” Mr. Blount said in court, “that I don’t think about that day.”

For Mr. Toney, the most damaging testimony came from his ex-wife, his ex-best friend and another cellmate.

Ms. Toney said that on Thanksgiving night 1985, she went with Mr. Toney and his best friend, Chris Meeks, to the parking lot of a propane supply shop on Jacksboro Highway near Lake Worth. The propane shop was adjacent to the Hilltop Mobile Home Park, where the Blount’s lived.

She testified that Mr. Toney got out of his truck, took a brown briefcase from the truck bed and disappeared into the darkness. Several minutes later, she said, he returned without the briefcase, They then went to the Nature Center a few miles away, she said, where they stayed for several hours.  While they were there, she said, Mr. Toney shot a beaver with a rifle. Ms. Toney testified that she didn’t hear an explosion or sirens and didn’t see anything.

Mr. Meeks also testified that the three of them were near the trailer park that night, but his testimony contradicted Ms. Toney’s account in many ways.

Finis Blankenship, a cellmate, testified that Mr. Toney told him he was paid $5,000 for the murders.  Mr. Blankenship said Mr. Toney told him that they were part of a drug-related hit, but that he put the explosives on the wrong doorstep.

Mr. Toney took the stand and testified that he learned the details of the Blount bombing in prison from an inmate named Bennie Joe Toole.  Mr. Toole, of Azle, who was a friend of Mikey Huff, had at one time been a suspect but had passed a polygraph exam.  Mr. Toole testified, confirming Mr. Toney’s account of events.

As for his former best friend and his ex-wife, Mr. Toney testified, “I believe Chris is lying, and I believe Kim is mistaken.”

Despite the inconsistencies and the complete lack of evidence or motive, the jury convicted Mr. Toney and sentenced him to death.

Television shows to the contrary, no criminal trial answers every question and solves every mystery. The Toney case has more than it’s share of puzzles, contradictions and repudiations.

Prosecutors said Ms. Toney was the most important witness.  “The person the jury really had to buy to make the case was Kim Toney,” Prosecutor Parrish said.

Ms. Toney has since remarried, though she sometimes still uses her former name.  Now studying to be an accountant, she says she stands by her trial testimony.  “If I had any doubt in my mind, I would have contacted somebody,” she says.  “You hate the thought that he is going to die; I don’t wish death on anybody.  But I can’t change what he did.  He has to pay for what he did.”

Ms. Toney, an army veteran served in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. She says exposure to toxic chemicals in Kuwait caused her to suffer memory loss. “Your long term memory is very good,” she says, “but short term memory is very bad.”

Mr. Meeks provided important corroboration of some of her testimony.  But his and Ms. Toney’s accounts of Thanksgiving night differ markedly.  Ms. Toney had said they went to the Nature Center after Mr. Toney delivered the briefcase, but Mr. Meeks testified that they actually went to the center several days before.

Even prosecutors acknowledge that Mr. Meeks was not much of a witness, in large part because of his drinking.  “His Budweiser intake was 18 to 24 cans a day,” Mr. Parrish says.

Perhaps most important, Mr. Meeks has now changed his story for the fourth time.

He originally told investigators he knew nothing about the bombing.  Then he told the Grand Jury he knew nothing.  After allegedly failing a polygraph exam, he began implicating Mr. Toney.

In 2001, after a visit from an investigator working on Mr. Toney’s appeal, he signed an affidavit recanting his trial testimony.  “My testimony about the events that happened on Thanksgiving day, 1985, may not have happened on that day,” that affidavit said.  He added that, “To my knowledge, Mr. Toney’s briefcase never had any bombing material inside.”

Finally, there is former cellmate Blankenship’s story regarding the $5000.00 contract hit.  It came in the second phase of the trial, in which the jury had to decide whether Mr. Toney deserved to be executed. Prosecutor Parrish said Mr. Blankenship’s testimony was crucial to the death penalty, because it showed jurors a motive for the crime.  “If they don’t know the motive, that bothers them like hell,” Mr. Parrish says.  “I thought that (testimony) removed any potential residual doubt that anyone might have.”

Mr. Blankenship, a convicted robber, had a long history of criminal involvement and of acting as a police informant.   A Dallas fire marshal wrote of him in a 1967 testimonial letter: “Due to his helping us, he has had an attempted castration on him by four men. He has had three sticks of dynamite put in his car and had been shot at.”

When he met Mr. Toney in jail, Mr. Blankenship was facing two counts of indecency with a child and habitual-criminal charges.  He believed that if he went back to prison, he would die there.  So in exchange for having those charges dropped, Mr. Blankenship says, he agreed to testify against Mr. Toney.  Prosecutor Parrish denies that he made any such deal.  If he had, he says, “the jury would have thrown rocks at me.” Nonetheless, Mr. Blankenship told his story about Mr. Toney to the court.  The charges against him were later reduced to a misdemeanor assault.

Mr. Blankenship now says this about his story implicating Mr. Toney.

IT WAS A LIE.

At 73, he lives in a shabby three-room house north of Fort Worth Stockyards.  Skinny chickens peck the dirt out front.  On the walls of his living room hang framed photos of Roy Rogers and Hopalong Cassidy. He uses a walker to move around.  He is missing most of his teeth and he stutters.  “I’ve had a stroke and a heart attack,” he says.  ”If I go back to prison, I’ll die there.”

He takes out a black leather bound Bible and opens it to his favorite verse, Luke 11:52: Woe unto you lawyers.”   The lawyers had him in a corner,
Mr. Blankenship says, and he had no choice but to fabricate a story about Mr. Toney.  “I’m an old man,” he says. “I’d hate to see an innocent man die.  Am I wrong? Am I wrong?”

He begins to sob, the tears dropping into the open Bible in his lap.  I only done it because I was scared I was gonna die,” he says. “I can’t tell you the things you will do if you think you’re gonna die.”

There is no (physical) evidence,” Mr. Toney says.  “All there is is a theory. A ridiculous theory. The reason there is no evidence is - I am innocent.  I have never even been to the Hilltop Mobile Home Park and didn’t even hear about this crime until Toole told me about it.”

Now 41, he spends 23 hours a day in his cell, swinging from anger, to cold calculation to despair. “I’m tired if this,” he says.  “I’m tired of this place.  I’m tired of everything.”

A private detective continues to work in Mr. Toney’s case.  Despite many hours of effort, detective Tena Francis has this far failed to find the one piece of evidence that Mr. Toney believes is the key to setting him free:

The title history to a pickup.

Ms. Toney and Mr. Meeks said he was driving a truck on the night of the bombing.  Mr. Toney says he didn’t purchase the truck until Friday, December 13, 1985. If they can be proven wrong about the truck, Mr. Toney believes all their testimony will be disproven. 

One of Mr. Toney’s former girlfriends, Tammy Reil, now says that she saw Mr. Toney the night of the murders and she’s sure he was driving a compact car.

The Texas Innocence Network at the University of Houston agreed this year to take Mr. Toney’s case. Lawyer David Dow said this in a filing with the U.S. District Court in Fort Worth: “Since the trial, the state’s evidence of Toney’s guilt, as frail as it already was, has entirely crumbled.”

Mr. Dow says inconsistencies in witness’ accounts demolish the case against Mr. Toney.  He also charges that authorities coerced Mr. Toney’s best friend, Chris Meeks, into testifying against him. 

In September 2006, Mr. Toney made another attempt to reach out to the Blount’s; despite having been told that they believed his conviction was justified.  He says this revelation surprised him.  “I thought they would have just as many questions as I do.”  Mr. Toney said.  “I have been trying for the last 6 years to contact you.”  He wrote, “Learning that you believe I am guilty and don’t even question it has hit me very hard.”  Mr. Toney’s three-page single spaced letter repeated his contentions that he had never been to the Hilltop Mobile Home Park, where the bombing occurred, and that new evidence might exonerate him.

Having the answers probably won’t save my life because that’s not the way the law works, but I am hoping and praying that it will somehow cause the murders of your loved ones to get the justice they deserve,” Mr. Toney wrote. “True Justice will be done when they go before the only True Judge.”

On that last point, and only on that, he and the Blount’s finally meet one another.

(The Case Story has been compiled from newspapers, other media coverage, trial records and other legal documents.)

AND NOW A WORD FROM MICHAEL TONEY:

Now that you have read the story concerning this terrible crime, I invite – urge you to read the current Writ Application that contains the newly discovered exculpatory evidence that was hidden from the defense prior to and after trial.  The discovery of this evidence is nothing short of a miracle.

I believe you will see that I have told the truth from the very beginning and that I was correct when I testified that I believe Kim Toney is mistaken and Chris Meeks is lying.  I believe any intelligent person will see just how easy a miscarriage of justice can occur and that one has occurred in this case.  It is absolutely transparent that the misconduct of the prosecution team (including the investigators) resulted in the conviction of an innocent man.

I have learned through the many cases I have studied that the prosecution often resorts to unethical and often illegal acts to obtain a conviction.  They will use every dirty trick in the book to get a conviction and then defend their actions on appeal because they know how reluctant the courts are to overturn a conviction.

I am unequivocally innocent of this crime.  I have never in my life been to the Hilltop Mobile Home Park and I am in no way whatsoever connected to the crime, the victims or anyone else in that area.  I have never been there!  I didn’t even know the place existed until just prior to my trial.  The reason there is no evidence is that I am completely innocent.

Send comments, leads and questions to:

innocentmanintx@yahoo.com

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