Convicted Killer Submits Signed Confession From Another Man - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News


Convicted Killer Submits Signed Confession From Another Man

He's serving a life sentence for capital murder. And now, he has submitted a letter in which another man confesses to the crime.

John Lee Newman, who was 30 at the time of the killings, pleaded guilty to the stabbing deaths of two people in December 1998.

The bodies of Linda Porter, 47, and her boyfriend, Harvey Edwin Matthews, 40, were found in their West Tyler home.

Newman has filed a new affidavit, including what appears to be a confession from another man. Newman, who's now 36, filed an affidavit from prison in Livingston. It includes a signed confession from Tyler man Billy Bob Willingham, 34, saying he stabbed the two people; Newman did not.

The statement from Willingham says, "I had told John Newman that if he didn't take the rap that I would kill his family. I was a crack addict and have since become a born-again Christian. I just want to set the record straight and clear my soul. I had done a lot of break-ins that the police know about and will clear up all this mess too."

Assistant D.A. Mike West says the affidavit is forged, including the signature and stamp by Notary Public Christy Putnam. According to West, Putnam says she never signed such a document; Newman stole her notary stamp and forged her signature.

A hearing will be held tomorrow in Judge Cynthia Kent's court. The prosecutor says Willingham will tell the court he never confessed to the killings.

If, in fact, the signed confession is forged, Newman may face some additional charges that will keep him in prison even longer.

Judge Kent will hear the evidence tomorrow, but the final ruling on the case will come from the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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