File / 1997Michael Roy Toney
FORT WORTH - A Texas death row inmate freed after an appeals court overturned his capital murder conviction has died in an East Texas pickup truck crash.
Michael Roy Toney, 43, died in an 11 a.m. Saturday crash in Cherokee County when his truck veered off Farm Road 347, overturned and ejected and crushed Toney, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Toney had spent almost 10 years on death row for the 1985 bombing deaths of three people in a Lake Worth trailer, near Fort Worth. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in December that the prosecutor withheld evidence that might have helped Toney at his 1999 trial.
The Tarrant County District Attorney's office didn't deny the assertion. In January, it recused itself from the case "to avoid the appearance of impropriety," said District Attorney Joe Shannon.
The state attorney general's office dropped the charges on Sept. 2 and Toney was released pending a new investigation.
On Thanksgiving night 1985, 15-year-old Angela Blount found a suitcase on the porch, took it inside the family's mobile home and opened it. A bomb exploded and killed her; her father Joe Blount, 44; and her cousin Michael Columbus, 18. Her 14-year-old brother and mother were also in the Lake Worth trailer but survived.
The case remained unsolved until 1997, when Toney was arrested while jailed on an unrelated charge after telling an inmate he committed the bombing. But Toney later testified that it was a scam to get the inmate released, and he played along because he thought the bombing happened when he was behind bars for another offense, according to court records.
He had testified he learned about the bombing previously from another inmate who had lived with Angela Blount's former boyfriend, who had been a suspect before authorities cleared him, court records show.
Although Toney denied any involvement in the bombing, his ex-wife and business partner gave detailed accounts in testifying that he was the bomber.
Angela Blount's mother, Susan Blount, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram for a story in Monday's editions that she still believes that Toney was the bomber.
"If this is Michael Toney who died, then I can finally say it is over with and I don't have to worry about Michael Toney any more," she told the newspaper.