SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas man on death row was supposed to be given his execution date Wednesday afternoon, but after 13 years there will be more waiting.
45-year-old Troy Clark was convicted of capital murder in 2000 and sentenced to death by a Smith County jury. However, Wednesday, a gaggle of defense attorneys managed to buy Clark more time.
Troy Clark will soon be appointed a new attorney. In the courtroom, multiple defense attorneys, most not currently representing Clark, said a new United States Supreme Court ruling could impact his case. The judge expressed frustration that no one had voiced these concerns earlier. That frustration was shared by Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham and the victim's family.
"Going into the hearing, the defense had made no mention of this. We had the victim's family here. They're expecting after 15 years that they're finally going to get justice for Christina," says Bingham.
In 1998, law enforcement discovered 20-year-old Christina Muse's body dumped on a western Smith County property. She had been missing for months.
According to court documents, Christina Muse was Clark's former roommate. When Christina moved out, Clark "became concerned that she would talk to the wrong people and 'snitch' on him about his drug dealings."
According to evidence presented during the trial, in May of 1998 when Muse stopped by Clark's house, he stunned her with a stun gun to the neck. He then bound her hands, legs and mouth with duct tape, struck her with a board, and drowned her in the bathtub. Court documents reveal that Clark later put Muse's body in "a blue barrel filled with cement mix... poured lime into the barrel, mixed in water and put a lid on" the barrel before dumping it on his landlord's property.
"After years and years and years of court review that he's had...every court saying we're affirming your conviction and death sentence...after all of those years of that...here we are again," Bingham.
Christina's family is still waiting for closure.
"This is the perfect example of why we call it the criminal justice system. How about the victim justice system? It's very frustrating," says Bingham.
Another person, Tory Gene Bush, was also charged with murder for helping Clark commit the crime. She pleaded guilty in 2000 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison. Bush is scheduled to be released in September of 2018.