TCDLA members W. Alan Bennett and Susan Kelly (also a board member) heard the two-word verdict in a Waco murder trial after nine hours of jury deliberation. A big problem for the state was the testimony of one of its witnesses—a prison inmate serving 50 years for 5 aggravated robberies. Instead of testifying he was in the car on the way to rob the victim when D shot him, as expected, he testified that he had killed Bowers. Prosecutors then learned that Walker was in the McLennan County Jail when the victim was killed, and that he was lying about the whole incident to try to get a better deal on his pending cases. Susan credited TCDLA members contributing in the case, but it was good work by Alan and her in a grueling battle that won the day. Kudos for their efforts.
Kudos to Shawn Paschall for his “not guilty” verdict in Fort Worth recently in a murder trial. Prosecution offered 30 years in what it described as a fistfight between cousins. Shawn says D was at home when the victim came by and threatened him. D left house and walked neighborhood and, knowing victim was violent and had gang affiliation (and had already been to prison twice), had taken a knife with him. Victim pulled up in car and began assaulting D who stabbed him—in self-defense, the jury decided. Shawn described that as a “big relief,” and a job well done.
TCDLA members Skip Davis and Charles Medearis have secured an acquittal in the case of a Gulf War veteran charged with aggravated assault on a public servant. The state alleged that D knew the persons at his door for a welfare check were police officers when he pulled and pointed a gun through a window. Jurors listened to the dispatch call multiple times and watched the defense’s video recreation of the scene and became convinced that with the pounding on the door, the ringing of the phone, and his mental state, D had been disoriented. After a trial lasting a week and a half, the jury deliberated for four hours before returning the verdict. Congratulations, team.
Emily Detoto recently got good news for a client who waited over a year to be vindicated. D turned down a misdemeanor offer of time served, and instead elected to go to a trial by jury on the third-degree felony charge of Assaulting a Police Officer. He allegedly was drunk and belligerent and refused to leave a nightclub when an off-duty HPD officer working there asked him to. D allegedly refused and punched him. Emily acquainted the jurors with cop’s disregard for regulations, including smoking in uniform at the bar and failing to take down the names of any witnesses present who may have seen this altercation. Cop’s supervisor, who got him the job and was present, was also smoking in uniform and didn’t investigate the incident.
D’s account related how he had seen both officers and smoked with them outside of the bar, making a joke with them about, “How are you gonna catch the bad guys with smokers lungs.” Apparently the officers took offense and dragged him out of the bar, roughing him up, and only stopped when D thought to claim he was a lawyer—whereupon the choking stopped.
It took the jury less than an hour to find D not guilty and give him his life and freedom back. Kudos, Emily, for sticking up for the little guy.
Kudos to Robert Guest, chair of the Technology & Communications committee, for his work with the TCDLA twitter feed. Thanks to his efforts, tweets have increased 10 percent on the site.
The other sniper: Keith Hampton represented a mentally ill Marine sniper charged with seven different offenses in Comal County after his client texted his mother his threat to kill her, then drove to her house at 4 a.m. and fired 23 bullets into her home in May 2011. Jury selection was waived the morning of trial. Hampton asserted an insanity defense. Ultimately, the court found the defendant “not guilty” on four counts and “not guilty by reason of insanity” on three other counts. The veteran will now be treated in a hospital. Dissatisfied with one of the “not guilty by reason of insanity” findings, Hampton is appealing and seeking a full acquittal on that count.
The client was a severely mentally ill Iraq vet who returned from war a changed young man. He was suicidal and his descent into mental illness was accelerated when his beloved brother was murdered shortly after his return. Over the course of four years, he was hospitalized in various psychiatric facilities, but for short periods and without adequate care after release. He repeatedly deteriorated and in the spring of 2011, he became fixated on the delusion that his mother and stepfather were sexually abusing his nieces, and that they were trying to kill him. So he paid a cab driver to drive him from San Antonio to a small town in Comal County so that he could fire “warning shots.” The full incredible story is here (http://bit.ly/1Cd6pOf).
The key legal issue was whether or not the client was insane. Hampton argued that if his client perceived reality in such a way that it established a recognized legal defense, then his client should be considered insane. The prosecution argued that the defendant knew his conduct was wrong because he repeatedly said he expected to be arrested for his conduct. Hampton countered that while he knew he would be arrested, he also believed he would be exonerated by the available legal defenses of duress, self-defense, and defense of third persons, and thus was insane at the time of the offense.
Kudos, Keith, for another righteous defense.
Kyle Miller represented a defendant in a two-day jury trial in January 2015. The indictment was “recklessly causing bodily injury . . . while exhibiting a deadly weapon . . . a knife.” The indictment was enhanced to a 1st-degree felony—25–99 years. A city patrolman viewed the entire incident, caught most of it on his dashcam, pulled the client from the victim’s car, and arrested him. After the State rested, Kyle moved for a directed verdict, arguing the State had not proved bodily injury to the victim, nor the use of a deadly weapon. The Judge ruled in Kyle’s favor, leaving the State with a Class A misdemeanor. Instead of going forward with punishment for the misdemeanor, the State dismissed and re-indicted for injury to an elderly person–enhanced—still 25–99 years. After being apprised of possible double-jeopardy issues, the County Attorney moved to dismiss and it was granted. Well done, Kyle.