Texas Defendant Loses Appeal in Murder Case, Despite Lack of Representation During Interrogation Process

In a recent murder case coming out of a Texas court, the defendant unsuccessfully argued on appeal for the suppression of statements to police officers. Originally, the defendant was charged with and convicted of capital murder based on an incident from 2017. On appeal, the court ruled that the defendant’s rights had not been violated and that his original convictions should be affirmed.

The Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, the defendant was arrested after he was allegedly involved in a 2017 murder. In a statement to police officers immediately following the arrest, the defendant admitted to conspiring with three other individuals to rob the murder victim. He also admitted that eventually, the situation worsened and the group ended up shooting the victim and discarding him in a nearby river.

The defendant was charged with capital murder. In 2019, he filed a motion to suppress, and he asserted that the incriminating statements to law enforcement should not be entered into evidence. The trial court overruled the defendant’s motion to suppress. He was eventually found guilty and sentenced to life in prison. The defendant promptly appealed.

The Decision

On appeal, the defendant made a couple of different arguments, one of which was that the trial court ruled incorrectly on his motion to suppress. According to the defendant, the police officers he had spoken with ignored his request to speak with an attorney and thus violated his constitutional rights by continuing to interrogate him even after he had requested counsel. This infringement on the defendant’s rights was fundamental to his case, and he argued that the guilty verdict should be appealed accordingly.

The court considered the defendant’s argument but ultimately disagreed. It is true, said the court, that criminal defendants have a fundamental right to be represented at any point in a proceeding after being charged with a crime. It is also important that criminal defendants clearly and unequivocally ask for an attorney when they are going through any interrogation process – without this clear ask, law enforcement will not proactively provide defendants with counsel. In this case, the defendant did not clearly ask the police officers to speak with an attorney. Instead, he asked to speak with his mother, and he hoped that his mother would arrange for an attorney to come talk with him about the case. Because the defendant failed to directly ask for an attorney, however, he failed to take advantage of the constitutional right that is afforded to him.

Because the defendant effectively waived his right to counsel when speaking with law enforcement, the statements were properly entered into evidence. After reaching this conclusion, the court denied the defendant’s appeal.

Are You Facing Criminal Charges in Texas?

If you are facing charges for a violent crime in the state of Texas, give us a call at Guest & Gray. We offer unparalleled legal representation that gets you through the tough times, and we are committed to working relentlessly until you receive the results you need. For a free and confidential consultation, call us today at 972-564-4644.

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