Contemporary Portrait Artist
127 x 91 cm
Oil on canvas 2008
Death Row Texas
Conviction: 2001 - present day
British citizen, Linda Carty, has been on death row in Texas for the past 8 years for the murder of a neighbour. The prosecution was based entirely on the testimony of her co-accused, three career criminals, who by blaming Linda could save themselves from the death penalty.
The victim was found bound and gagged in the boot of a car. The prosecution suggested that Linda’s motive was to cut out the victim’s unborn baby to keep for herself. In fact, the woman was not pregnant having given birth several days previously. Linda’s court-appointed lawyer had the highest number of clients receiving the death penalty in the US and admitted that he did not talk to her about the facts of the case until after her trial had started.
Linda’s last hopes are resting on the final stage of the appeals process – the federal courts.
I waited alone as the sun was going down by the giant rolls of razor wire, under the gaze of armed guards poised on platform towers. A surreal experience, as eventually a solid looking female guard came out and led me to the search area clutching my only allowed possession – a roll of quarters for the tuck machines.
I sat behind bullet-proof glass - the only visitor on death row that night - ducking down to talk through a 4 inch high wire mesh watched by an armed guard. Linda was clearly delighted by my gift of 5 rice crispie bars and a can of cherry coke purchased from the tuck machine and inspected by a guard, for immediate consumption only.
The four hours that I had been dreading flew by as we chatted like friends sitting at home with a cup of coffee, discussing not only her story, but cricket, Prince William’s love life and her past life. A cheerful parting was the only way to leave this vivacious, youthful woman whose optimism I could only hope would be rewarded.
“Putting a face behind the words and handwriting, either from you, or me, has personalised our friendship, I’m grateful you chose to visit me here, Claire. Thank you kindly” - Excerpt from one of Linda’s letters
"Can you imagine the agony I feel knowing factually that the crime I am wrongly and falsely accused and sentenced for, is NOT mine?”- Excerpt from one of Linda’s letters
"Texas is freezing cold , there’s freezing cold air blowing inside the cells, as well as outside, one shiveringly wonders which space of extremes I should procure some warmth. I’m afraid I’ll have to defrost, elsewhere, mentally.” - Excerpt from one of Linda’s letters