DA, judge at odds over releasing convicted killer

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by JASON WHITELY

WFAA

Posted on April 10, 2013 at 10:00 PM

Updated Thursday, Apr 11 at 2:35 AM

PARIS — On Wednesday morning, Danny Holloway returned to the same court that convicted him 11 years ago, hoping for a chance of freedom.

Holloway is serving a 20-year sentence for stabbing and killing Ashley Lee at a large gathering in Paris in 2001.

"That was my daughter," said Paula Lewis, wiping away tears. "We love our children. We'd do anything for them, and we don't bring them in this world so someone else could take their lives."

Two other exonerees sat in support of Holloway as his attorney explained the knife is the smoking gun.

Dallas' Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences tested the blade and discovered it did not have Ashley's blood on it.

"Therefore, the knife is not the murder weapon," concluded John Stickles, Holloway's attorney. "And if the knife is not the murder weapon, an important piece of the state's case fails, and Mr. Holloway should receive a new trial."

State 6th District Court Judge Eric Clifford will only make a recommendation for a new trial. The Court of Criminal Appeals will decide whether to grant one.

But Judge Clifford was still going to let Holloway out on bond during the Wednesday hearing until Lamar Co. District Attorney Gary Young fired back, chastising the judge, and saying he has no authority to do so.

"Judge, you don't have that authority," Young told the court. "I'm not trying to be disrespectful; you are not entitled by statute to set bond. Only the Court of Criminal Appeals can set bond."

The judge didn't release Holloway, but did not send him back to prison, either.

Instead, Clifford ordered Holloway to remain jailed in Paris until he decides whether to recommend a new trial.

"This is messed up," Paula Lewis said. "It seems like it's messed up. I've never seen anything like this before."

The judge said he would make a decision within two weeks.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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