A death sentence may be challenged if incorrect procedures were following during a trial. Recently, a Texas death row inmate was granted a new sentencing hearing because his lawyer refused to present a defense during part of his trial a decade ago.
The case illustrates the importance of an effective criminal defense to protect the rights of the accused.
Hector Medina was convicted of capital murder in Dallas County nine years ago over the shooting of his eight-month-old daughter and three-year-old son in 2007, reported the Texas Tribune.
In October, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals allowed Medina a new sentencing hearing. He will fight for a sentence of life without parole, an alternative to the death penalty.
Although Medina is not arguing his innocence, the court ruled he was denied a fair trial. During the punishment phase of his capital murder trial when jurors weigh up whether a defendant should be put to death or face a term of life in prison, his lawyer refused to present a case.
The Tribune reported the trial was delayed. One juror was injured and another left to witness the birth of his grandchild.
Judges at the Court of Criminal Appeals accused the lawyer of intentionally torpedoing the case.
Several of the attorney’s witnesses were due to fly in from other states and out of the country. They could not coordinate to arrive at a newly scheduled date.
Medina is an undocumented migrant from El Salvador. He family members were set to testify on his behalf. The court refused to reschedule during the original hearing.
The failure of the attorney to present evidence at the sentencing hearing meant the court did not hear details about the trauma Medina suffered during El Salvador’s bloody civil war, a potential mitigating factor for the death penalty.
At Peek & Toland PLLC, we are well aware of the trauma and isolation that defendants who are charged with serious offenses such as murder and manslaughter face. These issues may be compounded when the defendant in question is an immigrant who is unfamiliar with the American legal system.
In recent months, a slew of inmates on Death Row in Texas have won new hearings.
Duane Buck, a prisoner on Texas’ Death Row was recently granted relief by the U.S. Supreme Court after his own attorney presented racially discriminatory witness evidence at his trial, noted the Death Penalty Information Center.
If you have been charged with a serious criminal offense, please call our Austin based criminal and immigration law firm at (512) 474-4445.