The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

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November 3, 2009

Simpson asks for clemency

A 29-year-old Palestine man who earlier this year expressed a desire to expedite his execution is now asking that his death sentence be commuted to life.

In a petition filed last Wednesday, attorneys representing Danielle Simpson asked that their client’s sentence be commuted to life, while alternatively requesting a 180-day reprieve to allow him the opportunity to litigate his claims.

Simpson is set to die in two weeks on Nov. 18 in Huntsville for his role in the January 2000 murder of 84-year-old Geraldine Davidson, a former Palestine school teacher.

Davidson’s body was found floating face down in the Neches River on Jan. 27, 2000 on U.S. 79 between Palestine and Jacksonville by a passing motorist. She had been tossed into the frigid river with her hands tied behind her back and a cinder block attached to her ankles, according to authorities.

Testimony during Simpson’s trial indicated that he and others were burglarizing Davidson’s residence on South Sycamore Street when she returned home and discovered them.

Other testimony showed that Simpson and his co-defendants in the case paraded Davidson around in the trunk of a vehicle, displaying her to multiple persons before murdering her on the night of Jan. 26, 2000.

In August, 87th State District Judge Deborah Oakes Evans signed an order setting Simpson’s execution for Nov. 18. The door was opened for the setting of Simpson’s execution after the New Orleans-based Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled he had the legal right to waive further review of his case.

Earlier this year, Simpson expressed a desire to expedite his execution rather than exhaust his entire range of appeals, describing conditions on Death Row as “pitiful” and testifying during a June hearing that he looked “forward to life after death.”

Following this summer’s hearing, U.S. District Judge Ron Clark wrote in an order that the court “finds that there is no evidence that Petitioner is suffering from a mental disease, disorder or defect. Petitioner has the ability to appreciate, and in fact does appreciate and understand, his current legal position and options available to him. He is able to make a rational choice among these options.”

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