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2009-10-07 / Front Page

Freed death row inmate dies in auto accident

Michael Toney was released 30 days ago; proclaimed his innocence involving bomb that killed 3 at Lake Worth

A Texas death row inmate, freed only 30 days after an appeals court overturned his capital murder conviction, was killed at 11:05 a.m. Saturday in a one-vehicle accident on FM 347, one mile north of Dialville.

Michael Toney, 43, of Dialville, was traveling south on FM 347 in a pickup truck when he approached a curve and left the east side of the road, overturned and rolled over.

Mr. Toney had spent 10 years on death row when he was released. He claimed he was innocent of setting a bomb which killed three people in a Lake Worth trailer.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled last December that the prosecution, the Tarrant County District Attorney’s office, had withheld evidence from his 1999 trial which might have helped Toney.

The Texas attorney general’s office dropped the charges Sept. 2, and Mr. Toney was released pending a new investigation.

Mr. Toney was arrested in 1997 while jailed on an unrelated charge.

He told another inmate that he committed the bombing, although he later testified that it was a scam to get another inmate released. He said he played along with the charges because he thought he was behind bars at the time of the bombing.

Killed in the explosion were Joseph Blount, 44; Angela Jo Blount, 15; and Michael Columbus, 18.

In the Saturday accident, excessive speed may have contributed to the wreck. Mr. Toney, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected.

He was pronounced dead at the scene by Justice of the Peace James Morris, Precinct 3.

The accident was investigated by Trooper Tim Hatch.

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