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Texas high court upholds death sentence on sex crime conviction

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Sex crime allegations are serious accusations. The state of Texas takes any sex crime seriously and as such, the consequences to a sex-crime related conviction in the state can be a large burden to bear. On top of the traditional consequences associated with sex crimes, such as large fines and prison time, are additional burdens including damage to one's reputation that can later hinder the ability to find a job or rent an apartment. A Texas man is currently facing such serious consequences after the Texas Court of Appeals upheld his death sentence stemming from a rape and slaying conviction.

The 65-year-old man has been imprisoned since 1985 on a rape charge out of Harris County. Much later, in 2008, the sorority sisters of a Southern University Methodist girl who was allegedly raped and murdered in 1984 at her off-campus condo asked authorities to re-investigate her death. Investigators, using DNA technology not available twenty years ago, determined that this 65-year-old man was the perpetrator.

After his 2010 criminal trial on the rape and murder charges associated with this Southern University Methodist student, a jury convicted the man, sentencing him to death. Since then, he and his attorney have appealed the decision, claiming some 52-errors made at trial. This includes alleged errors of improper jury selection methods, jury instructions and use of expert witnesses.

Yet, the Court of Appeals upheld the verdict against the man. However, he still has the option to appeal the decision to the federal courts. It is unclear at this time if he will pursue this route. His execution date has not yet been set.

The state of Texas has had a trying year in regard to death sentencing. The state has released a number of originally convicted individuals who were sentenced to death after organizations presented evidence pointing to the innocence of the inmates. Legislators are fighting for inmate rights, arguing for harsher evidentiary standards as well as enlarged rights for minority inmates facing the death penalty to challenge certain evidence. Yet, the death penalty is alive and well in the state.

Source: Dallas News, "Man on death row for 1984 SMU slaying loses on appeal," March 5, 2013.

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