The case of Frances Newton, aka Francis Nelms, the 40-year-old Texas woman who was executed for murdering her family in the late 1980's, will be presented on tonight's episode of Fatal Attraction. The TV One documentary will delve into the death penalty case using interviews with police, journalists, and family members. The crime will unfold through reenactments.
Frances (Francis) Nelms Newton's case became a media sensation in 1987, when it was discovered that she killed her children and her husband. When law enforcement officials arrived at the apartment located at 6126 West Mount Houston Road, they found the bodies of one black male adult with a gunshot wound to the head. In a back bedroom, two black children were found dead with gunshot wounds to the head. The three victims were identified as 23-year old Adrian Newton, 7-year old Alton Newton, and 2-year old Farah Newton. According to court records, Francis Newton claimed that she came home to find her husband dead on the couch and her two children dead in their beds.
An investigation revealed that there was more to Francis' story. It was uncovered that the couple had battled marital problems, and that just weeks before the deaths occurred, Frances Newton, aka Francis Nelms purchased a life insurance policy, listing herself as the beneficiary.
Family members also came forward stating that Frances had dumped the gun inside an empty home that was owned by the family. Ballistics reports confirmed that Frances' fingerprints were found on the murder weapon, leading investigators to arrest her and charge her with murder. A Harris County jury found Francis Nelms Newton guilty of murder and sentenced her to death.
Her death sentence became controversial because many people did not believe there was enough evidence to say that she actually committed these murders. Many who knew Francis personally say that she was a sweet, soft-talking, god-fearing woman who would have never harmed her family. After her conviction, an inmate came forward stating that another prison admitted to him that he was the one who killed Adrian Newton over some drug money. Frances Newton appealed her conviction but it was denied. Here is how the Texas Court Of Appeals finally ruled on the appeal
"A ballistics expert established that the pistol recovered by Officer Talton was the murder weapon. A forensics expert for the State established that nitrites were present on appellant's skirt. In the expert's opinion, the nitrites came from gunpowder residue, and were consistent with someone shooting a pistol in the lower front area of the skirt. He testified that another possible source of nitrites would be fertilizer. A forensic expert for appellant confirmed that nitrites could come from fertilizer. For the reasons stated above, we deny Newton's Application for COA."