Random Tuesday Morning Thoughts

A man would be convicted in 2013 but the motive was unclear. "Prosecutors believe [he] became obsessed with Desta. But they said he apparently didn’t know her aside from eating at the couple’s restaurant."

  • Starting out with an unintentional legal nerd alert warning.

    • The excerpt below was in the Denton Record Chronicle as a follow-up to the story of the defendant who committed suicide last week by drinking a liquid seconds after the jury returned a guilty verdict.

    • I was going to be flippant and make a simple bullet point that read, "I can tell you exactly what the 'next steps in his client's case' are: Nothing. It's over. The death of defendant brings a criminal case to a screeching halt and nothing transpires after that." 
    • But as soon as I wrote that, I began to back off and the mind racing/rabbit trail began. 
    • Certainly, the criminal case against the defendant is over. You can't imprison a dead guy. But I'm not 100% sure of the next technical steps.  Should a mistrial be declared because the jury hadn't sentenced the defendant by accessing a punishment? Or can the trial still go forward because the defendant's absence was "wilful or voluntary" on his part? There is a statute that governs a defendant just hitting the road after being convicted . . .

    • But since the defendant is simply dead, does that statute not apply? Can the defense lawyer convince the judge to declare a mistrial and then force the State to dismiss the case? Can the State instead convince the trial court to at least go ahead and enter a written judgment of guilty based on the verdict for official record purposes even though there was never a punishment? I don't know. 
    • I do know that if a defendant dies after a conviction but while the case is on appeal, the appellate court would simply forever "abate" the appeal. (Rule 7.1)  But this case wasn't on appeal. And there is no similar law dictating what's to happen when a defendant dies in the middle of a trial. 

  • Before moving on to other news, that Denton case made me think of a Wise County case where a defendant was convicted but didn't appear at the punishment phase. But he didn't flee, he severely cut himself in the Wise County jail because he didn't want to come back to court and ended up in the local hospital.  You want to know how long ago it was? I was the D.A. and our Sheriff was the lead investigator when he was a Texas Ranger. (Here's the case on appeal.)
    • That case was wild because it was a robbery of a hair salon in Decatur. No one was hurt, but the defendant came with an even wilder history. He had previously been convicted of first degree murder of a Disney World employee, but was released from prison outright when that case was reversed on appeal because of insufficient evidence. 
  • This case out of McKinney really freaked the metroplex out when it happened. The victim was a real estate agent who was alone at an open house when she was killed in 2006.   (Honestly, I don't like that he was convicted using evidence obtained from hypnotizing an "eyewitness" and with DNA evidence under her fingernails -- which didn't conclusively identify him but was only "consistent with" his DNA. It makes me feel a little better that there was a confession, but we've been down this road in other cases before.)
  • Side note: All of the above has been very murder intensive (and very depressing) so far.
  • The far right has been attacking public education and teachers, but they are fixing the problem in Southlake with "In God We Trust" signs: "During Monday night’s Carroll school board meeting, the company made a presentation related to a new state law, which passed last year, that requires public schools to display the national motto if a poster or framed copy is donated to the school." (Emphasis added.)
  • Two big things I learned about the case seen in the viral video of the Texas nurse who blew through the intersection in LA and killed six.
    • The prior driving . . .

    • What may have been going on . . . 

  • Oh, good grief.
  • I saw this video last week, and it's bugged me ever since. Anne Heche was on a stretcher and completely covered up when she was taken out of the home she crashed into. Then, as she neared the ambulance, she suddenly violently popped up. The reporter in a helicopter, who was broadcasting live, was really shocked: "Oh, my god!"

  • AP top 25:
  • As a young boy, UT running back Steve Worster was the first name I ever learned. The way all the adults were talking, I thought he must be the greatest of all time: