Articles Posted in Murder

In a recent criminal defense case, appellant Mack Watson, Jr. appealed his conviction for murder, challenging three key issues. This blog post aims to provide an analysis of these issues and the court’s decision, ultimately affirming the conviction. The three issues discussed include the denial of Watson’s motion to suppress an in-court identification, the denial of a motion to suppress Watson’s recorded statement to the police, and the court’s decision regarding a yawning juror.

Issue 1: In-Court Identification

Watson argued that the trial court erred by denying his motion to suppress an in-court identification made by a witness. He claimed that the identification was based on an impermissibly suggestive pretrial photo array procedure, leading to a substantial likelihood of misidentification at trial. However, the court disagreed with Watson’s arguments. They concluded that the photo array was not impermissibly suggestive, as witnesses had described the shooter as potentially bald, and the array included bald individuals. The court also found that the minor discrepancies in facial hair among the individuals in the array did not render it unduly suggestive. Moreover, even if the identification procedures were unduly suggestive, the court determined that the admission of the witness’s in-court identification was harmless, as another witness had positively identified Watson as the shooter.

Issue 2: Watson’s Statement to Police

Watson also argued that his statements given to the police following the murder should have been suppressed because he was effectively in custody during the interview, but the officers did not provide Miranda warnings. The court applied the custody determination test, which assesses the circumstances surrounding the interrogation and whether a reasonable person would have felt free to leave. Although Watson had been detained during a traffic stop, the court found that the amount of force displayed and the chaotic nature of the events did not transform the investigative detention into an arrest. Consequently, the court concluded that Watson was not in custody at the time of his statement, and thus, Miranda warnings were not required.

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In a recent case coming out of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the defendant claimed that he was denied his constitutional right to a speedy trial. He was originally convicted of murder and tampering with evidence, and he argued that too much time passed between the charge and the conviction. While the court originally found it was unable to review the defendant’s claim, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued an opinion telling the lower court it had to make a decision one way or the other, sending the case back down for review.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was charged and convicted, but he appealed quickly on the grounds that he was denied the right to a speedy trial. Under both the U.S. and Texas Constitutions, an individual is guaranteed the right to have a “speedy” public trial. While the word “speedy” is up for interpretation, courts look to see whether an unreasonable amount of time passed between the charge and conviction when analyzing a speedy trial claim.
Here, the defendant said he waited too long for his trial to take place, and thus that the guilty conviction should be vacated. Originally, the appellate court disagreed and kept the verdict in place. The defendant, however, filed a petition asking for a review of the appeals court’s decision.

The Decision

The reviewing court looked at the appellate court’s decision to determine whether or not it was correct in denying the defendant’s claim. Apparently, said the reviewing court, the court of appeals had denied the claim because the lower court had failed to conduct a “speedy trial hearing.” The appellate thought it did not have enough evidence to decide the case since there was no hearing specifically on this issue in the lower court. Therefore, the court had denied the defendant’s request.

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In a recent murder case involving a man and his wife, the defendant’s appeal to a district court in Texas was unsuccessful. Originally, the defendant was convicted for murder after he drove up to his wife’s place of work and shot her. He appealed, arguing the crime was a crime of passion and thus that he should not have been so severely punished. The court rejected the defendant’s argument and affirmed his conviction.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant had gotten in a fight with his wife because she had been living in a separate apartment with the couple’s adult son. The defendant was unhappy that she needed space away from him, and he felt as though he was choosing their son over him. Subsequently, the defendant became depressed.

While experiencing this sense of depression, the defendant drove to the assisted living facility where his wife worked and waited for about an hour for her to arrive for her shift. He then “freaked out”, took a gun out of the back of his truck, and killed his wife. He drove home then immediately went to a local police station to turn himself in. According to the defendant’s report at the police station, the shooting was an accident and was not pre-meditated.

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