All three victims were shot with a .25 caliber pistol which belonged to a man that Newton had at the time been seeing. Newton claimed that an illegal drug trade/drug dealer killed the three. The Houston police presented evidence that Newton's husband was a drug dealer and was in debt to his supplier. Newton maintained her innocence from her first interrogation in 1987 until her execution in 2005. However, three weeks before the slayings, Newton had purchased life insurance policies on her husband, her daughter, and herself. These were each worth $50,000. She named herself as beneficiary on her husband's and daughter's policies. Newton claimed she forged her husband's signature to prevent him from discovering that money had been set aside to pay the premiums. Newton was also found to have placed a paper bag containing the murder weapon in a relative's home shortly after the murders. Prosecutors cited these facts as the basis for her motive.
Two hours before her first scheduled execution on December 1, 2004, Texas Governor Rick Perry granted a 120-day reprieve to allow more time to test forensic evidence in the case. There were also conflicting reports as to whether a second gun was recovered from the scene; ballistics reports appeared to demonstrate that a gun recovered by law enforcement and allegedly connected to Newton after the offense was the murder weapon. A relative of Newton who was incarcerated shortly after the murders claimed a person he shared a cell with boasted of killing the family. Numerous individuals, including three members of the convicting jury, expressed concern over evidence that was not presented during the trial.
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