NOVEMBER 2, 2012 http://itemonline.com
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the conviction of an inmate sentenced to death for the murder of a Texas Department of Criminal Justice employee during an attempted escape from a Huntsville prison in 2007.
A jury found Jerry Duane Martin, 42, guilty of capital murder in 2009 for the death of correctional officer Susan Canfield. Martin used a stolen truck to ram a horse Canfield was riding while trying to prevent him and John Ray Falk Jr. from escaping from the Wynne Unit on Sept. 24, 2007.
Canfield was thrown from the horse and died as a result of head injuries she sustained when she struck the windshield of the truck and fell to the ground.
Jury selection is under way in Bryan for Falk’s capital murder trial for his role in Canfield’s murder. He is also facing the death penalty. Attorneys for the state and defense are interviewing potential jurors. More than 200 Brazos County residents were summoned and the process is expected to take a couple of more weeks.
The Court of Appeals on Wednesday rejected Martin’s appeals, which contained 20 points of error during his trial three years ago. Among those, Martin’s attorneys alleged jury misconduct and that Martin should have been granted a new trial.
The defense argued Martin was denied an impartial jury because one juror withheld information that her family member worked for TDCJ when her husband had been a correctional officer for 18 months and had been stabbed by an inmate. The juror testified during a motion for a new trial that this did not influence her because it happened 17 years ago and her husband had said that he did not think the incident was a “big deal.”
Martin’s attorneys also noted that two other jurors were admitted to the jury who had ties to the Texas prison system. One had formerly worked at the Limestone County Detention Center and the other had been married to a man who was a correctional officer for 20 years.
The appeals court did not see any reason to overturn the trial court’s ruling and issued this opinion: “After reviewing appellant’s 20 points of error, we find them to be without merit. Consequently, we affirm the trial court’s judgment and sentence of death.”
Walker County grand jury indictments
A grand jury handed down the following indictments last week:
• Joe A. Thomas, illegal dumping commercial weight/barrel or drum.
• Juvenal Pimentel, possession of a controlled substance point grade one less than one gram.
• Willie Ray Shelton, possession of a controlled substance point grade two more than or equal to four grams but less than 400 grams.
• Christopher Tyrone Cooper, possession of a controlled substance point grade one less than one gram.
• Jerry W. Williams, driving while intoxicated third or more.
• Robert Cartwright, indecency with a child sexual contact.
• Angela Lee Morris, possession of a controlled substance point grade one more than or equal to one gram but less than four grams.
• Christopher Fazio, fraud possession of a controlled substance/prescription schedule I/II.
• David Karl Schneider, possession of a controlled substance point grade one less than one gram.
• Anthony Lamont Person Jr., possession of marijuana more than four ounces but less than five pounds.
• Kourtnae White, driving while intoxicated third or more.
• Jacqualine Christine Hardy, two counts of driving while intoxicated third or more.
• Shelton Bernard Hightower, possession of a controlled substance point grade one less than one gram.
• Leah Taylor Yeley, credit card or debit card abuse.
• Michael Quinn Sykes, credit card or debit card abuse.
• Robert Lee Austin III, credit card or debit card abuse.
• Kristin Winfrey, driving while intoxicated third or more.
• Christopher Damon Stuart, burglary of a building