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Texas gubernatorial candidate testifies in death penalty case

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/T/TX_DEATH_PENALTY_RETRIAL_TXOL-?SITE=TXELP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT Feb 28, 9:08 PM EST Texas gubernatorial
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      http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/T/TX_DEATH_PENALTY_RETRIAL_TXOL-?SITE=TXELP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT

      Feb 28, 9:08 PM EST

      Texas gubernatorial candidate testifies in death
      penalty case

      HOUSTON (AP) -- Independent gubernatorial candidate
      Kinky Friedman testified Tuesday on behalf of a man
      convicted of killing three people during a robbery at
      a Houston bowling alley.

      Friedman testified during the punishment phase of Max
      Soffar's trial that the defendant should not be
      executed and questioned the evidence used to convict
      him.

      "I've seen the problems with the lawyers. Everybody's
      dead. All the witnesses are dead. Tthere's no evidence
      against him," he said. "And I can't even believe he
      was brought to trial in the first place."

      Friedman, a musician-turned-mystery
      author-turned-politician, said his court appearance
      had nothing to do with his run for governor. Known for
      his trademark black cowboy hat and cigar, Friedman
      needs to collect more than 45,000 signatures after the
      March 7 primaries to be placed on the November ballot.

      Soffar, 50, was sent to death row for the 1980
      killings of Arden Alane Felsher, 17; Stephen Allen
      Sims, 25; and Tommy Lee Temple, 17, at the Fair Lanes
      Windfern Bowling Center. A fourth victim, Gregory
      Garner, survived with permanent brain damage and lost
      his left eye.

      But a three-judge federal appeals court panel threw
      out the conviction in 2004 after deciding Soffar
      received ineffective legal representation.

      A second jury convicted him last week of capital
      murder.

      A drug addict and sometime police informant who had
      been in and out of mental institutions and reform
      schools, Soffar confessed to the killings but later
      recanted.

      Defense attorneys said the former truck driver and
      ironworker had the mental capacity of a 10-year-old
      when he confessed.

      Friedman said he met Soffar while writing an article
      for Texas Monthly magazine. He interviewed Soffar and
      exchanged letters with him during his years on death
      row.

      Although he used to support the death penalty,
      Friedman told jurors he's now against it.

      Testimony in the punishment phase ended shortly after
      Friedman left the witness stand.

      ---

      Information from:

      KTRK-TV, http://www.ktrk.com

      KHOU-TV, http://www.khou.com
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