Attorney David Dow heads the Texas Defender Service, a non-profit legal organization that represents death row inmates. Dow was the lead attorney on the case of Willie Earl Pondexter Junior, who was sentenced to death at the age of 19 for the murder of heiress and philanthropist Martha Lennox during a house invasion robbery. The lawyers representing Pondexter argued that, Pondexter, who was accompanied by three other individuals during the robbery, was not the one who administered the fatal gunshot that killed Ms. Lennox. Pondexter claims that one of the other perpetrators shot the woman in the head and that she died instantly - Pondexter was then handed the gun and he shot her a second time, in the jaw. According to Texas law, if Ms. Lennox was already deceased, or if Pondexter believed Ms. Lennox was already deceased, prior to shooting her, he is not subject to the death penalty: this was the basis of the defense’s argument. Ultimately, the State of Texas disagreed and carried out the execution in 2009, when Pondexter was 35 years old.
Dow cites that, while by no means a justification for the crime which was committed, Pondexter’s troubled and abusive childhood is part of the reason for his criminal behavior. Taking the social and family history of an individual into account may be the key to discovering why certain types of crimes are committed in the first place, and hopefully, finding ways to intervene and prevent such crimes from being carried out by troubled youths. [x]