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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 December, 2004, 14:14 GMT
Woman's Texas death row reprieve
Frances Newton
Frances Newton called police to say her family had been murdered
A Texas woman facing death by lethal injection has won a last-minute review of her conviction for murder.

Frances Newton, 39, was to become the first black woman executed in Texas since the US Civil War ended in 1865.

Newton, convicted in 1987 of killing her husband and two children, was in a holding cell when Texas Governor Rick Perry granted a reprieve.

He said although there was "no evidence of innocence", new tests would be carried out on gunpowder residues.

Newton had refused to take a final meal and was waiting to be taken into the execution chamber when news of her reprieve came through.

She reportedly smiled when told the news, and said: "I was hopeful someone would hear us. I'm relieved for my family."


Newton has always denied killing her husband Adrian, 23, and their children Alton, seven, and daughter Farrah, 21 months.

Prosecutors claimed she shot them before dialling emergency services in an effort to claim $100,000 worth of life insurance payouts.

But Newton's new lawyers have said that she was poorly represented and that gunpowder residue found on her dress was actually manure.

Mr Perry granted Mrs Newton four months for lawyers to carry out new forensic analysis of gunpowder samples from her clothing and the gun believed to have been used in the murders.

His decision came a day after the Texas parole board recommended the reprieve.

Ten women have been executed since the US re-introduced the death penalty in 1976.

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