Evidence was presented at his trial that during a two-month period in early 1985 Tracy Housel killed a man in Texas, stabbed a man in Iowa, raped a woman in New Jersey, and, finally, killed a woman in Georgia, for whose murder he received the death sentence.
Housel pleaded guilty at the trial. The surviving Iowa and New Jersey victims gave evidence against him, as did police officers from Texas, Florida and Georgia.
Or is there more to it?
At trial Tracy was represented by a single court-appointed lawyer just out of law school. The lawyer had never tried a murder case. In later appeal hearings, the lawyer admitted he made no attempt to find out the facts of Tracy's background, or his medical state.
The jury never learned that Tracy was abused as a child by an alcoholic father. They didn't know that at the time of the murder he suffered a psychotic episode (his brain wasn't working properly). This was due to a medical condition (hypoglycemia). By telling him to plead guilty, his lawyer had deprived him of a possible defence of insanity. If the judge thought he was insane he would have got life in prison, not execution. Had he known the full facts, his lawyer has said, he would never have given Tracy such advice.
Did Tracy deserve the death penalty?
Should he have been treated differently as his brain was not working properly at the time?
2) Main activity
Motion: The case of Tracy Housel proves the USA is right to have capital punishment.
The following can be printed to give the debate a formal structure and help students with their arguments.
- Arguments for the death penalty in the