Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Throws Out Two Death Sentences

On Wednesday, April 28, 2010, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals threw out two death sentences, ordering new punishment trials for both. The decision was made in line with changes in punishment evidence rules ordered by the United States Supreme Court in death penalty cases.

Roy Gene Smith, a death row inmate for 20 years, was granted a new punishment trial in Harris County as jurors in his original trial were not allowed to properly consider mitigating evidence of his crime-ridden upbringing. Smith, who is already serving a lie prison term for murder, was convicted in the October 1988 fatal shooting of James Whitmire.
The Appeals Court also ordered a re-sentencing hearing for David Lewis in Angelina County. According to the courts Lewis, who was convicted of killing a woman during a 1986 burglary, was unable to tell jurors that he had damaged vision and a history of alcohol and drug abuse as a youth.
The following Houston Chronicle article details more of the Appeals Court’s decisions, available here.