Wednesday, July 24, 2024


A Texas inmate has been executed Tuesday night for the death of a TDCJ  officer during a short-lived escape from prison in 2007.

Jerry Martin had requested that no additional appeals be filed on his behalf, clearing the way for his lethal injection Tuesday evening.

Martin was serving 50 years for attempted capital murder when he and another inmate bolted from a work detail outside the Wynne Unit in Huntsville.

In the ensuing chaos, a 59-year-old prison officer on horseback, Susan Canfield, was struck by a City of Huntsville truck the two had stolen from next door to the prison. Canfield fell and struck her head resulting in her death.

The two suspects later ditched the city’s vehicle for another vehicle stolen from the Guarantee Bank parking lot. That’s when law enforcement was able to apprehend one of the suspects, 40 year old John Falk.

The other inmate, Jerry Martin fled into a heavily wooded area, leading authorities on a full out manhunt.

Prison officials say Martin was taken into custody a short time later without incident.

Martin was convicted of Capital murder in 2009 and sentenced to death. John Falk has since won a re-trial for his part of the escape.  This after a mis-trial was declared following a lengthy delay caused by a dispute over language in the jury instructions. That delay was 55 days which into January of 2013.

Steve Fullhart with KBTX-TV in College Station was a witness to the execution and gave details of what happened.

From inside the death chamber, Jerry Martin — resigned, seemingly content with his fate — made a brief final statement from the gurney at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, telling the family of Susan Canfield that he was sorry for their loss, that he wishes he could take it back, and that he hoped his death would bring them closure.

He also added, “I did not murder your loved one. It was an accident. I didn’t mean for it to happen. I take full responsibility.”

Martin also made a very brief statement to his family and friends. They were in the viewing room I was in. As the lethal dosage began being applied, Martin said, “Jesus,” along with some incoherent words, and then began to slip under the effects of the drug.

One of the members of Martin’s party was crying for pretty much the duration of the time. Martin’s brother stood closest to the window, holding hands with another member of their group as Martin slipped away.

A doctor pronounced him dead at 6:27 p.m., some eleven minutes after those final words.

A rider less horse was present along close to three-hundred TDCJ guards who formed a like as Canfields family passed.

Susan’s husband, Charles, is a retired Houston police officer. After the execution, I asked him what he wanted people to remember about his wife.

“I guess the best thing to remember about Susan was her smile, and the fact that she had great respect for everybody, no matter where you were, what your stance was, what uniform you wore, or if you were inside or out,” he said.

Charles Canfield said his wife loved her job. When other guards were able to put a scowl on their faces while they sat on horses securing inmates in the field, she couldn’t muster one. Susan would even practice scowling in the mirror. She enjoyed her work and loved going to it, he said.

Charles says the fight for justice for his wife, who he called his everything, is not done. Falk is awaiting a new capital murder trial. A mistrial was declared in his first trial that was held in Brazos County early this year.

Simply put, Charles said, “one down, one to go.” He added, “this is a great day. Justice has been done.”

He did say the hard part would be going through a trial once again on Falk.



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