FORT WORTH - Convicted murderer Paul Storey was just a few days from his scheduled execution, but now he has been granted a stay thanks in large part to the parents of the man he murdered.
The decision by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals came just five days before his execution. Storey's prior appeals had all been rejected, but recently Judith and Glenn Cherry stepped forward with new information that the court decided could influence the case.
The Cherrys are the parents of Jonas Cherry, the man Paul Storey and an accomplice murdered during an armed robbery at a putt-putt golf course in Hurst in 2006. As the execution date approached, they made their case in a letter and video message that they did not support the death penalty for Storey.
"We have never been in favor of the death penalty," said Judith Cherry in a video posted to Facebook. "It pains us to think that due to our son's death another person will be purposely put to death."
The Cherrys maintain that they have consistently opposed the death penalty for years for religious reasons. According to Storey's recent court filings, Tarrant County prosecutors knew the Cherrys views but misled the court during sentencing, saying they wanted death for their son's killer.
"[Prosecutors] consulted the Cherrys, and the Cherrys made it very clear that they were not in favor of the death penalty," said Cory Session, a family friend of the Cherrys.
Christy Jack, a former Tarrant County prosecutor who worked on the case and is now in private practice, disputed that account. In a statement to WFAA, she said that while the Cherry family had expressed general opposition to the death penalty, they "supported the decision to move forward with the trial and seeking the death penalty" after they learned that Storey had rejected a plea deal with an offer of life in prison.
"In my many conversations with the Cherry family throughout the process, they were increasingly supportive of the decision to seek the death penalty," said Jack in her statement.
In their video message, the Cherrys claimed they just recently learned of the plea deal and said that is why they were stepping forward.
The case will now go back to a lower court to sort out, what is expected to be a lengthy legal process. Paul Storey may still face death, but for now at least his execution is on hold and his family is celebrating.
"It's incredible. It's a miracle is what it is," said Marilyn Grant, Storey's mother. "I don't know how much more time I've got, but I'm going to take it. And enjoy every minute of it."
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