AUSTIN, Texas: A Texas appellate court Wednesday unanimously affirmed the capital murder conviction and sentence of death assessed an inmate who brutally beat a correctional officer to death in July 2015 at the Barry Telford Unit in New Boston.
Billy Joel Tracy, 42, had a long history of violence both in and out of prison before he attacked 47-year-old Correctional Officer Timothy Davison the morning of July 15, 2015, during a routine walk from a prison day room to Tracy's one-man cell in administrative segregation. Tracy, who packed all of his personal belongings before walking out of his cell for an hour of recreation, violently struck Davison with fists he'd managed to free of their cuffs.
Once he'd knocked Davison to the floor, Tracy grabbed the officer's metal tray slot bar and wielded it like a hammer, striking Davison repeatedly in the head and face after he lost consciousness. After snatching the officer's pepper spray, Tracy threw Davison's unconscious body head over feet down a flight of metal stairs, tossed the slot bar in his direction and fouled the air between him and advancing prison staff with the chemical agent before retreating to his cell.
A member of the five-man extraction team that entered the cell to remove Tracy was bitten.
Davison died a few hours later at a Texarkana, Texas, hospital. As medical and prison staff scrambled to render aid to Davison, Tracy made taunting statements and promised future violence as he sat in a holding cell.
A Bowie County jury convicted Tracy of capital murder in November 2017. In keeping with the jury's answers to special issue questions, retired 102nd District Judge Bobby Lockhart sentenced Tracy to death.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Tracy's conviction and death sentence in an opinion issued Wednesday morning which overruled all 14 points raised on appeal.
Read tomorrow's online and print editions for in depth coverage of the case.