Death Penalty to be Sought for Walker County Escapee

A jury will have a life or death decision for the second man to be tried for the death of a Walker County corrections officer.

The death penalty will be a possibility for John Ray Falk Jr., the Huntsville Item reports. Falk and fellow inmate Jerry Martin were being held at the Wynne Unit in 2007 when they escaped custody, stole and truck and hit a horse being ridden by TDCJ guard Susan Canfield, who fell and died.

Martin was convicted in 2009 and sentenced to death. He remains on death row.

If Falk were to be convicted of capital murder, the only options for the jury would be life in prison without parole or the death penalty. Had prosecutors not sought the death option, Falk would have automatically been sentenced to life in prison if he was convicted.

The trial could take place later this year.

The Item reports Walker County is asking the state to foot the bill for the trial, estimated to cost $500,000. Local officials say since the state was responsible in the escape, it should pay for the trial, not Walker County residents.

The Martin trial cost a reported $400,000, most of which was covered by the state. This time, budget issues may prevent them from doing the same.

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