Monday, April 9, 2012

TOUGH START TO THE NEW YEAR

The year has started off busily.  Going into 2012, I had the heaviest trial docket in a while.  At this point, two cases pled the day of trial (DWI Habitual & Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child), and two went all the way.  Here is a quick summary, without revealing privileged info or info that might affect the appeal.

STATE V. FAIRCLOTH [Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon Habitual]
Billy Gene Faircloth was accused of striking a woman in the head with a rock shortly after lunch in a downtown Austin parking garage in February 2011.  At the time of the assault, passer-bys interrupted the assault, and the assailant scampered away.  Mr. Faircloth was corralled two floors above the location.  He had blood on his boot (there was substantial blood at the scene), and the rock used as the weapon was recovered.  In trial it was revealed that not only was the blood on the boot not the victim, but that the rock contained a third-party DNA.  Shockingly, the officers at the scene had put the rock into the boot to store it for evidence, contaminating the rock and it's surface DNA.  Moreover, the witnesses and the victim described different clothes on the assailant.  However, the clincher for the State was the video of the Defendant running from the scene moments after the assault.  Faircloth had been to the penitentiary 4 times and was on parole for a 35 year sentence.

STATE V. HOWARD [Aggravated Robbery x 2 Habitual]
Kevin Howard was accused of wearing a Dallas Cowboy jersey number 82 (no, I did not subpoena Jason Witten), donning a hat and sunglasses, brandishing a steak knife and robbing the neighborhood convenience store before stabbing the clerk in the chest.  Howard was caught a block away by a cop that happened to be in the neighborhood with the money stuffed in his pockets and with the knife which tested positive for the victim's blood.  Howard was severely mentally ill yet competent, on Federal parole, and a habitual offender.  He had been to the penitentiary 4 times and had a long history of violence.  Howard pled guilty in front of the jury and had a three day punishment trial.  Eventually, after the facts of the instant case were revealed and the fact he had killed a man when he was 16 (his mother described to the jury how this triggered his eventual schizophrenia even though he was never charged because of self defense) he was sentenced to a substantial term.  The jury was quite emotional about Kevin Howard and the path which led him to that point at age 39.  One juror told me the experience will be with her awhile.  When I saw him after the trial he told me "you did your best".  I wish I could have done more.

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