Court revives claims by Texas death row inmate backed by DA

Jan 8, 2023, 5:08 PM | Updated: Jan 9, 2023, 7:32 am
FILE - Light illuminates part of the Supreme Court building at dusk on Capitol Hill in Washington, ...

FILE - Light illuminates part of the Supreme Court building at dusk on Capitol Hill in Washington, Nov. 16, 2022. In courtrooms across America, defendants get additional prison time for crimes that juries found they didn’t commit. The Supreme Court is being asked, again, to put an end to the practice.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Monday revived claims by a Texas inmate who has the rare support of the state prosecutor’s office that put him on death row.

The justices threw out a Texas appeals court ruling that refused to grant the inmate, Areli Escobar, a new trial. The state appeals court had overruled a lower court judge who documented the flaws in the forensic evidence used to convict Escobar.

The high court’s action returns the case to the appeals court.

Escobar was convicted and sentenced to death in the May 2009 fatal stabbing and sexual assault of Bianca Maldonado, a 17-year-old high school student in Austin. They lived in the same apartment complex.

The focus of the prosecution case against Escobar was evidence from the Austin Police Department’s DNA lab.

But a later audit turned up problems at the lab that led Judge David Wahlberg of the Travis County District Court to conclude that Escobar’s trial was unfair.

“The State’s use of unreliable, false, or misleading DNA evidence to secure (Escobar’s) conviction violated fundamental concepts of justice,” Wahlberg wrote.

When the case returned to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Travis County prosecutors no longer were defending the conviction. Voters had elected a new district attorney, Jose Garza, who ran on a promise to hold police accountable in Austin, the state capital and county seat.

But the appeals court refused to go along, saying it had conducted its own review that justified affirming the conviction and sentence, and not mentioning the prosecution’s change of position. Even after Garza’s office pointed out it was no longer standing behind the conviction, the appeals court stuck with its ruling.

In its filing with the Supreme Court, Garza’s office wrote that prosecutors have a duty to see justice done and that the appeals court “undermined the District Attorney’s historical role in the criminal justice system.”

Escobar’s lawyers, unsurprisingly, agreed, telling the court that their case is so clear, the justices could reverse the appellate ruling without hearing arguments.

“If ever there were a case calling for summary reversal, it is this capital case. Denying the petition would be a grave miscarriage of justice,” they wrote.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Nathan Chasing Horse stands in court. Monday, Feb. 6, 2023, in North Las Vegas, Nev. Nathan Chasing...
Associated Press

‘Dances With Wolves’ actor charged in 2018 rape in PNW

Canadian police confirmed Tuesday they are pursuing a criminal case against a former "Dances With Wolves" actor who was arrested last week and charged in Nevada with sexually abusing and trafficking Indigenous women and girls.
8 hours ago
Associated Press

Germany’s Merkel receives UNESCO peace prize in Ivory Coast

YAMOUSSOUKRO, Ivory Coast (AP) — Former German Chancellor Angela Merkel received a UNESCO peace prize Wednesday for her decision to welcome more than 1.2 million migrants to Germany despite resistance at home and among European partners. Organizers said that Merkel showed political courage when Germany welcomed refugees in 2015-2016 who had fled conflicts in Syria, […]
1 day ago
FILE - Queen Margrethe attends the Danish Parliament's celebration of her 50th Regent's Anniversary...
Associated Press

Danish queen to undergo ‘major back surgery’

COPENHAGEN, Denmark (AP) — Denmark’s Queen Margrethe II, whose half-century reign makes her Europe’s longest-serving monarch, will undergo “major back surgery” later this month, the royal palace said Wednesday. The 82-year-monarch will be hospitalized afterward and undergo “a longer rehabilitation process,” the royal household said in a statement. “During a long period, Her Majesty has […]
1 day ago
FILE - Composer John Williams poses on the red carpet at the 2016 AFI Life Achievement Award Gala T...
Associated Press

BSO plan to digitize John Williams concerts almost complete

BOSTON (AP) — An effort to digitize more than 200 Boston Pops radio broadcasts conducted by John Williams from 1979 until 1991 is almost complete, the Boston Symphony Orchestra announced Wednesday, Williams’ 91st birthday. The project to preserve 233 live radio broadcasts that were recorded on 256 one-quarter inch (0.63 centimeter) reel-to-reel analog tapes that […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Bali police arrest Italian fugitive wanted on drug charges

ROME (AP) — Police in Indonesia’s tourist island of Bali have arrested an Italian fugitive wanted on mafia-related drug trafficking charges, Italian authorities said Wednesday. Antonio Strangio, 32, was arrested at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport as he disembarked from a flight from Australia, where he had been living since 2016, carabinieri paramilitary police said. […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Rwandan driver fined after guilty plea for reporter’s death

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — A driver whose car hit and killed a Rwandan investigative journalist has pled guilty and has been fined by a court. Moise Emmanuel Bagirishya was fined $920 for involuntary manslaughter, three weeks after the crash which killed John William Ntwali. Ntwali was riding as a passenger on a motorbike when the […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Court revives claims by Texas death row inmate backed by DA