The state of Texas killed Troy Clark at 6:15 p.m. local time Wednesday night, in the state’s death chamber in Huntsville. During his initial trial and 18 years of appeals, prosecutors did not introduce any physical evidence linking Clark to the crime he was convicted of, instead relying on testimony from Clark’s girlfriend, who also confessed to participating in the murder. Both Clark and his then girlfriend, Tory Bush, were convicted of killing their former housemate, Christina Muse, and disposing of her body on their landlord’s property in 1998. Clark professed his innocence to his dying breath. Bush confessed, testified against him, and received a 20-year-sentence.
His last words, according to the Houston Chronicle were, “I’m not the one that killed Christina, so whatever makes y’all happy. I love y’all. I’ll see you on the other side. Y’all be good. OK Warden I’m ready.”
And then, “I feel it,” as the lethal injection cocktail of drugs entered his system.
Clark was the first of two planned executions on consecutive days, the first time Texas has killed two convicts in two nights in more than 6 years, according to the Chronicle. Clark and Bush’s alleged victim, Christina Muse, was a young mother who he had recently shared a house with, allegedly drowning her and attempting to dispose of her body by putting it in a blue barrel filled with lime in 1998.
But per the Chronicle, the majority of the prosecution’s argument for convicting Clark came from his then-girlfriend Tory Bush’s testimony.
In the years since he was sent to death row, Clark has argued that he suffered bad lawyering, didn’t get to show evidence rebutting claims he would be a future danger to society, and that his girlfriend’s testimony was self-serving and unreliable - especially considering she once confessed to the crime herself.
“Clark’s death sentence is the product of the largely uncorroborated testimony of an incentivized co-defendant and a trial attorney whose performance was abysmal,” attorneys David Dow and Jeff Newberry wrote in a clemency petition, alleging the trial team failed to present evidence of Clark’s traumatic childhood and Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder.
Both Clark and Bush were meth users, and Clark claimed he was away from his residence selling the drug at the time of the murder. Bush’s testimony claimed that Clark killed Muse so she wouldn’t inform on the couple for their drug sales and use, and prosecutors believe that he and friends took her body to a remote spot and dumped it. Police found second decomposing body at the same site, but Clark was not charged for any crime in connection to it.
Texas executes more people than any other state in the country. In 2016, it killed seven of the 23 total convicts executed in the U.S., and the Chronicle reports that it’s on track to kill as many as 16. Nine, including Clark, have already been carried out, and there are seven more on the schedule in the last three months of the year. The longest the state has gone without killing someone is nearly six months, in 2016. Thursday night, it plans to execute Daniel Acker, 46, who was also convicted of murder in 2000.