Deaf Conroe man indicted on capital murder

Deaf Conroe man indicted on capital murder

By Nancy Flake

April 24, 2010

While her deaf client has been indicted on a charge of capital murder in the
stabbing death of his estranged wife, a Houston attorney said she doesn’t
believe that charge should stick because he “didn’t mean to kill her.”

Willis police arrested Earl Handy Jr., 39, of Conroe, Jan. 16 for allegedly
fatally stabbing Donna Allen Handy, 34, in her home. He also is charged with
aggravated assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly injuring Handy’s
boyfriend, Joseph Taylor, of Conroe.

Police previously said Handy waited outside his wife’s home for the
opportunity to confront her and Taylor. When Taylor opened the door to the
single-wide mobile home in the 13000 block of Aspen Way Court in the Pin Oak
subdivision shortly before 8 a.m., Handy allegedly stabbed him several times
in the upper body.

Police arrived to find Donna Handy stabbed in the chest, and she was later
pronounced dead at Conroe Regional Medical Center. Earl Handy was found in
the other end of the home, and police used their Taser stun guns to subdue
him when he began stabbing himself, Willis Police Detective Alton Nelson
previously said.

Handy is still in the Montgomery County Jail with no bond amount set,
according to jail information.

His indictment states Handy intentionally caused the death of Donna Allen by
stabbing her with a knife while committing or attempting to commit of

A person commits capital murder “if the person intentionally commits the
murder in the course of committing or attempting to commit kidnapping,
burglary, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, arson, obstruction or
retaliation, or terroristic threat” under the Texas Penal Code.

The penalty for capital murder includes life in prison, life in prison
without parole or death. The Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office
has not made a decision on whether to seek the death penalty, Chief
Assistant District Attorney Phil Grant said.

“The decision on the death penalty will be made by (DA) Brett (Ligon) at
some point,” he said.

But “I think it would be a true tragedy if Montgomery County decided to seek
the death penalty,” said Houston attorney Katherine Scardino, appointed to
represent Handy. “I don’t think it’s capital murder in the first place.”

Handy’s deafness was caused by a high fever when he was 16 months old,
Scardino said, and he’s struggled his entire life to support himself and his
family. He uses sign language but can’t read lips.

Two sign-language interpreters have been appointed to Handy by the 9th state
District Court of Judge Fred Edwards, according to records from the
Montgomery County District Clerk’s Office.

The facts of the case are “so very sad and egregious in the sense that the
woman died but he didn’t mean to kill her,” said Scardino, who won an
acquittal in a high-profile Harris County capital murder case in the late
1990s. “He was fighting the boyfriend who he saw inside the house he bought
for them (Handy and his wife). It’s a really, really sad story.”

Grant deferred comment on any specifics of Handy’s case.

“While it is always tempting to try these types of cases in the press,
ethical rules demand that we limit our discussion of the facts of pending
criminal cases,” he stated in an e-mail. “We look forward to presenting
those facts to a jury of Montgomery County residents at the appropriate

Handy has no prior arrests, Scardino said, and Public Data lists no previous
criminal history for him.

“It’s like the country song, ‘That’s my house and that’s my car, that’s my
dog in the back yard,’” Scardino said. “It’s his property, it’s his wife. He
didn’t take anything.

“I don’t understand why the state is calling it a capital murder.”

Nancy Flake can be reached at [email protected].


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