What is the fascination with Linda Anita Carty? If a man had planned the crime she did - a faetal abduction - and committed the crime she did - smothering a young mother to death in the trunk of a car - he would have been convicted, sentenced and forgotten. No one would have cared if he lived or died, and if he had been sentenced to die as was Carty in Texas, no one aside from the usual anti-death penalty crowd would have paid the slightest attention. But Carty is a woman, and as the DA who prosecuted her says in this film, she is articulate, convincing, and most of all manipulative.
Werner Herzog makes it clear he is opposed to capital punishment, but he does not allow ideology to blind himself to the reality of Carty's guilt. Sadly the same cannot be said for Carty's pro bono lawyer Michael Goldberg, nor for her daughter Jovelle, who must surely know the truth, both of them.
Herzog does not speak to Carty's original lawyer Jerry Guerinot, but I did about the same time this film was released, and to his co- counsel. They paint a very different picture of Carty than either her fawning daughter or her misguided appeal lawyer. Court-appointed attorney Guerinot was given some of the most odious clients in Texas or anywhere, including serial killers like James Paster, and as the man himself said:
"These were terrible cases. I did not defend them in the true sense of the word, rather I represented them to the fullest extent to ensure they each received a fair trial with every constitutional right to which the worst offender is entitled under our Constitution."
Guerinot's bad reputation stems from a defamation campaign against him by Reprieve, a so-called charity, one that has never allowed facts to stand in the way of a terrible story. Reprieve's lies have been parroted uncritically all over cyberspace, including by the "New York Times" Supreme Court correspondent.
Recently, Carty was back in court where she tried and failed to have her case retried, an attempt that was based entirely on tainted evidence. One of those who backtracked was Christopher Robinson, whose concern was entirely for his own case. In this documentary we see a very different Robinson, in particular a man who accepts his guilt even if he does rightly blame Carty for roping him in to commit a crime he would never have considered otherwise. When asked by Herzog how a street smart guy like himself managed to get suckered, he replied simply "Greed". Every man has his price; Robinson's was a cut of a 900lb stash of marijuana, one he realised too late did not exist.
In his interview, Goldberg puts up Charles Mathis who could have given "really good evidence to help Linda". Anyone who has read the appellate judgments will realise this is not so; Mathis was basically a character witness for a woman who had repeatedly shown herself to be untrustworthy if not actually dangerous.
Thankfully we also see although we do not hear from the victim's family; Joana Rodriguez was buried in her native Mexico; for the moment, Linda Carty is buried in the Texas penal system. As long as she remains buried, no one should really care if she dies by lethal injection next year or of old age three decades from now.
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