May 13th, 2013
Mistrials are rare but we see them from time to time. In a high profile case in Texas a mistrial has been declared after a jury was deadlocked in the trial of a woman charged in the 2011 stabbing death of a Huston-Tillotson University athlete in Austin.
In the case, the jury deadlocked 11-to-1 on May 8, 2013 in favor of conviction in the trial of Kaitlyn Ritcherson, a 21-year-old who is charged in the death of Huston-Tillotson women’s track team member and biology major Fatima Barrie.
The student athlete died in December 2011 of wounds she sustained during a fight outside an Austin club. Read the rest of this entry »
May 7th, 2013
Texas is far from perfect in gathering evidence of sexual assault. The imperfect system can pile on the misery for victims and lead to miscarriages of justice.
Under a bill presently advancing through the Texas Legislature, hospitals would be forced to provide improved treatment for victims of sexual assault. Read the rest of this entry »
April 30th, 2013
A bill to study the causes of the numerous wrongful convictions we see in Texas passed through the House floor this month – but not without opposition.
House Bill 166, has been put forward by Rep. Ruth Jones McClendon, D-San Antonio. It would create the Timothy Cole Exoneration Review Commission, named after a defendant who died in prison serving time for a sexual assault it was later discovered he had not committed. Read the rest of this entry »
April 25th, 2013
The important role played by a Texas forensic lab has been highlighted in relation to a high profile murder investigation in Massachusetts.
Fox News reported the authorities in Massachusetts are sending evidence from the Molly Bish homicide investigation to the Orchid Cellmark lab in Dallas.
Bish was just 16 in 2000 when she disappeared at Comins Pond in Warren where she was working as a lifeguard.
It took another three years for her body to be discovered. Investigators say she was first abducted, then killed. It remains one of the highest profile unsolved cases in the north east.
According to Fox News, Timothy J. Connolly, a spokesman for District Attorney Joseph D. Early, declined to tell the Telegram and Gazette newspaper what items he would be sending to the Dallas lab for testing, but said “some of the evidence gathered in connection with the investigation has been tested in the past.” Read the rest of this entry »
April 22nd, 2013
Texas executed convicted killer Rickey Lynn Lewis on April 9, 2013, notwithstanding concerns about his mental state.
Lewis was convicted of sexually assaulting a woman from Tyler and killing her fiancé in the course of a home burglary in 1990. A previous execution date was stayed due to arguments that Lewis had extremely poor intellectual functioning. However, more recently a court ruled in 2005 that his intellectual abilities were not an issue in the case. Read the rest of this entry »
April 1st, 2013
The case of a female Texas trooper who faces a sexual assault trial reveals the thin line law enforcement officers can tread between performing their job and breaking the law.
CBS 11 News reported Dallas County Grand Jury recently indicted trooper Kelley Helleson on two counts of sexual assault and two counts of official oppression. Read the rest of this entry »
March 25th, 2013
White collar crimes aren’t always associated with long prison sentences which are traditionally reserved for violent crimes such as rape or murder.
But increasingly prosecutors are using federal sentencing guidelines to put more non-violent offenders behind bars for long periods, Forbes magazine reported in a recent feature. Read the rest of this entry »
March 22nd, 2013
Domestic violence has been in the news recently after Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings announced he is hosting an anti-domestic violence rally tomorrow.
It’s part of a wider campaign that is targeting men, according to the Dallas Morning News. Rawlings expects 10,000 men to join him at City Hall on March 23, the newspaper reported.
Those supporting the rally include former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman and current Cowboys cornerback Brandon Carr. NFL Hall of Famer and former Dallas Cowboys running back Emmitt Smith recently tweeted that he plans to attend the rally. Read the rest of this entry »
March 11th, 2013
The disturbing case of Andre Thomas has again raised the question of how just how insane a defendant has to be in Texas to avoid the death penalty.
Thomas gouged out both of his own eyes in jail. He brutally murdered his estranged wife along with their young son and her 13-month-old daughter. According to reports, he was diagnosed as schizophrenic while in prison, and has heard voices in his head since childhood. Read the rest of this entry »
March 5th, 2013
If you are accused of a crime in Texas, your chances of a fair trial will vary depending on the openness of the jurisdiction you are being tried in.
That’s the conclusion of a new report which found the amount of evidence that can be obtained from prosecutors varies widely across the state. The report found more uniform transparency could help prevent wrongful convictions.
Texas Defender Service, an organization which represents death row inmates, and Texas Appleseed, a nonprofit that campaigns for social justice, researched discovery practices in 40 counties across Texas.
“They found that the wide variation in discovery practices among prosecutors makes access to justice dependent upon the jurisdiction in which the defendant is charged,” reported the Texas Tribune. Read the rest of this entry »