Murder Conviction Reversed

| Jan 25, 2011 | Criminal Defense |

In Winfrey v. State, the Texas Criminal Appeals Court reversed and rendered an acquittal on the defendant convicted of murder.  The appellant was charged with capital murder, but convicted by a jury of the lesser-included offense of murder and assessed a 75 year sentence.  No evidence linked appellant to the crime except “scent lineup evidence” from Sheriff Pikett’s dogs that had been “pre-scented” to the victim’s clothing and alerted on appellant’s scent.  The Court of Appeals affirmed finding:  1.  Pikett’s canine-scent testimony provided direct evidence placing appellant in direct contact with the victim’s clothing; 2. the jury could have reasonably concluded that the appellant was in the victim’s house at the time of the murder, and that he had significant physical contact with the victim; 3. appellant shared information about the murder with his cellmate that was unknown, even by police; and 4.  appellant identified himself as the “number one suspect” at a time when the police did not consider him a suspect.

The Criminal Appeals Court held that the evidence, even when viewed in the light most favorable to the verdict, merely raises a suspicion of guilt and is legally insufficient to support a murder conviction beyond a reasonable doubt