In May 16th 2001 Joana Rodriguez, 25, was just settling into life with a newborn. The beautiful young mum had given birth four days ago, to a son called Ray. Yet that night, three men came into her home, beat up her partner and kidnapped her and her newborn son.
Later that day her lifeless body was found in the trunk of a car. Miraculously her son was still alive.
In a real life documentary, Susanna Reid travels to Texas to talk to the British woman on death row who was charged with the crime, former teacher Linda Carty.
“I can look you fully in the eye and say I had nothing to do with the crime,” a tearful Linda tells Susanna.
Yet prosecutors argued that she tricked local men into kidnapping the young mum who she murdered because she wanted to steal her baby. Police found baby items in her car, the male attackers turned against her, and she’d told people in the days leading up to the gruesome crime that she would soon become a mum.
But twenty years on, Linda continues to plead her innocence from jail.
She’s supported by her daughter Joelle, who visits with her grandchildren, and who has long campaigned for her release. Joelle will not attend the execution if they set a date, saying: “Nobody wants to watch their parents die.”
And a group of British and American human rights lawyers have been looking into her case since 2003. Hugh Southey QC, a barrister and friend of Linda says that the fact that she’s British could help her with getting an appeal.
Susanna looks at both sides of the case, and asks Linda some tough questions. But we also hear how Carty always said she simply lent the local men her car, and didn't know anything about the crime.
Furthermore, there was no forensic evidence trying her to the case, and there are also allegations that the prosecution coerced false testimony from key witnesses.
We last see Linda pondering how she will feel if she gets an execution date. She says: “If I lose my life I know I have people behind me who will not stop until I clear my name.”
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The documentary paints a stark image of life on Death Row, with Linda revealing the harsh reality of what it means to be behind bars with some of the most dangerous people on earth.
“The first count begins at 3am – you are awakened and have to give a verbal response then an hour later breakfast is served at 4am, then you have to go out to work," she reveals.
"We’re housed in a building that caters to the worst of the worst. You are basically cut off from family and the outside world and everything you consider the norm.”
It’s the last of the series and marks a break for the Good Morning Host, who says she’s decided not to do “extra work” so she can be present for her sons Sam, 19, Finn, 17, and Jack, 16, who are doing GCSE and A level exams.
British Grandma on Death Row with Susanna Reid is on Tuesday 22nd March ITV 9pm
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