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Man convicted in Tarrant County will stay on death row despite allegations prosecutors lied

The Tarrant County Courthouse located at 100 E. Weatherford St. in Fort Worth.
Rodger Mallison
Fort Worth Report
Paul Storey has spent almost 16 years on death row for the murder of Jonas Cherry. His case has gained national attention.

Paul David Storey will remain on death row, Texas’ highest criminal court decided Wednesday, two years after the then-Tarrant County district attorney accused two of her office’s former prosecutors of lying during Storey's trial.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected former Tarrant County DA Sharen Wilson’s request for a new punishment hearing for Storey, who was convicted of capital murder in 2008.

The victim's parents made it known before sentencing they did not want the death penalty, but prosecutors told jurors they did, Wilson argued, siding with Storey’s defense team.

Storey’s lawyers are now exploring other legal avenues to help their client, his court-appointed attorney, Mike Ware, told KERA.

"Everybody agrees this is a travesty of justice. The state agrees this is a travesty of justice, and they've joined in,” Ware said.

The court denied Wilson’s request “without even blessing us with their reasoning," Ware said. It published the denial with no written order explaining why.

Of the court’s nine justices, Judges Kevin Yeary, Michelle Slaughter and Scott Walker dissented. Judge Jesse F. McClure did not participate.

"Last night we get notified that all of this had been denied,” Ware said. “No hint as to why. No effort to explain themselves. No effort to hold these prosecutors accountable, which is a nationwide problem.”

Sharen Wilson, a woman with short salt-and-pepper hair, stands smiling and looking away from the camera with her arms crossed. She stands outdoors on a sunny day, with a small group of people milling behind her.
Miranda Suarez
Sharen Wilson, right, served as Tarrant County criminal district attorney, the head of the local prosecutor's office. Towards the end of her time in office, in 2022, she sided with Paul Storey's defense team to try to get him a new punishment hearing.

Storey has been on death row for almost 16 years. Storey and another person, Mark Porter, were convicted of capital murder in 2008 for killing mini golf course manager Jonas Cherry during a robbery.

Porter pleaded guilty and got life in prison. Storey went to trial, and a jury gave him the death penalty.

Then-prosecutor Christy Jack told the jury before they decided Storey's sentence, “It should go without saying that all of Jonas’s family and everyone who loved him believe the death penalty is appropriate."

That wasn't true, according to Cherry's parents, who say they never wanted the death penalty and have fought to get Storey off death row. A juror in the case said he never would have agreed to a death sentence if he knew how Cherry’s parents felt.

Storey’s attorneys learned about the Cherrys’ stance on the death penalty after Glenn Cherry went to his car salesman, Cory Session, to talk about it.

Session was not only a car salesman. He also worked with the Innocence Project of Texas, advocating for criminal justice reform in honor of his brother Tim Cole, who was wrongfully convicted for rape in 1986 and posthumously exonerated in 2009.

Glenn Cherry told Session he and his wife never wanted the death penalty, Session said in an interview with KERA in 2022.

“My first thing I said was, well, did you tell this to the prosecution back then?” Session remembered. “He said, ‘Yeah, we did.’”

That information kicked off a new flurry of attempts to save Storey’s life.

In 2017, the Cherrys wrote to Gov. Greg Abbott and the Board of Pardons and Paroles, asking for a life sentence for Storey instead, the Texas Tribune reported.

A photo of Paul David Storey, a Black man looking directly at the camera against a blue background. The image appears to be a mugshot or prison photo.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Storey has been on death row since 2008, against the wishes of the parents of the man Storey was convicted of killing.

The Court of Criminal Appeals halted Storey’s execution days before he was scheduled to die. The next year, a Tarrant County judge recommended his sentence be reduced to life without parole, but the Court of Criminal Appeals denied that recommendation.

In 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Storey’s case, although Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote a statement in support of Storey.

“Prosecutors not only failed to disclose Cherry’s parents’ unwavering desire that Storey not be sentenced to death, but also misled the jury in summation to successfully secure a death sentence,” Sotomayor wrote.

A few months later, Wilson filed the motion that was denied Wednesday.

“Under these most extraordinary circumstances, Storey should, at the very least, be granted a new punishment trial,” Wilson wrote. “Justice demands it.”

Jack and Foran have denied any wrongdoing in the Storey case.

“The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court have all upheld the jury's death sentence,” Jack wrote in a statement to KERA in 2022. “Even after the highest court in the country put this matter to rest, the Tarrant County District Attorney reinserted herself."

KERA reached out to the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office to request an interview about the Court of Criminal Appeals decision.

The DA’s office responded with a statement recounting the facts of the case.

"Storey’s conviction and death sentence remain intact,” the statement reads in part.

KERA responded with another request for information about what the DA can do next.

Wilson is no longer Tarrant County DA. She filed her motion on Storey’s behalf during her last months in office. The current DA is Phil Sorrells.

Got a tip? Email Miranda Suarez at You can follow Miranda on Twitter @MirandaRSuarez.

KERA News is made possible through the generosity of our members. If you find this reporting valuable, consider making a tax-deductible gift today. Thank you.

Miranda Suarez is KERA’s Tarrant County accountability reporter. Before coming to North Texas, she was the Lee Ester News Fellow at Wisconsin Public Radio, where she covered statewide news from the capital city of Madison. Miranda is originally from Massachusetts and started her public radio career at WBUR in Boston.