Trucker's efforts to free his wife move forward

| Wednesday, March 26, 2003

The struggle to free Tonya McCartor, wife of OOIDA member Daryl McCartor, has taken several steps forward in recent weeks.

Tonya was arrested March 19, 2002, in connection with a 1969 murder conviction and 1970 escape from a Tennessee women's prison. Police told Daryl she was actually Margo Freshwater, one of the most wanted criminals in America. Now, the OOIDA member is spending his time trying to help his wife clear her name.

Tonya's attorneys, Robert Ritchie and Stephen Ross Johnson, filed a petition Feb. 5 seeking a new trial based on the discovery of information not available to defense attorneys in her 1969 trial, according to a Memphis, TN, newspaper. A hearing on the motion is scheduled for April 24 in a Memphis courtroom.

According to The Commercial Appeal, the petition says the prosecution withheld parts of a statement by jailhouse informant Johnny Box. The missing portion contains Box's statement that Freshwater's co-defendant, Glenn Nash, admitted killing liquor store employee Hillman Robbins. Freshwater was later convicted of that killing.

"The Johnny Box statement consisted of several pages," Ritchie told the newspaper. "The record reflects that only the last page was provided to the defense. In the part not provided, Mr. Nash told Mr. Box that he shot Hillman Robbins and indicated Margo Freshwater was in another part of the store."

Since Tonya was also Darryl’s co-driver, her arrest also cut his income in half, but he has no doubts he'll raise the $100,000 needed for her legal fees.

The trucker is logging as many miles as it takes to earn the money for her legal defense, and he and Tonya's son have set up a Web site at www.mccartorfund.org to tell her story and raise money for her legal defense.

But financial woes continue to plague him. With only 12 more payments left on his truck, he gave up the vehicle when he couldn't afford a badly needed crankshaft replacement in January.

But Daryl wasn't landlocked for long. Within days, he had signed on as a company driver and was back on the road. With no truck payments, he says he'll have that much more toward her legal expenses.

But in the meantime, Daryl says trucking isn't the same without Tonya.

"It's difficult to sit at a table to eat without my wife," Daryl McCartor said. "We always had something to talk about, and I miss her."

--by Rene Tankersley, feature editor

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