The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Local News

December 11, 2012

Attorneys await high court ruling

HUNTSVILLE — The capital murder trial in the death of correctional officer Susan Canfield has been delayed for another day as attorneys from the state and defense await the ruling by the 10th Court of Appeals about the appropriateness of jury instructions.

Walker County District Attorney David Weeks and special prosecutor Jane Starnes are challenging the “fairness” of 278th District Judge Ken Keeling’s instructions to the jury in the trial of Texas prison inmate John Ray Falk Jr., claiming the wording made it more difficult for the prosecution to prove that Falk —who escaped with Jerry Duane Martin from the Wynne Unit in Huntsville five years ago — is responsible as a co-conspirator for Canfield’s death.

Trial officials made oral arguments before the Court of Appeals on Monday morning at the McLennan County Courthouse in Waco. Falk’s trial, which began Nov. 26 in Bryan, has been on hold since Dec. 3 after Weeks filed a writ of mandamus asking the high court to halt the trial court’s proceedings until it could rule on the state’s objections to the jury’s instructions. Weeks filed his writ before closing arguments began in the trial.

Canfield, 59, an officer supervising inmates in the field while mounted on horseback, died Sept. 24, 2007, trying to prevent the inmates’ escape; her horse was struck by a truck Martin stole from the City of Huntsville Service Center, which caused her to sustain fatal injuries when she fell from the horse. Martin was convicted of capital murder for his role in Canfield’s death in 2009. Falk, who was a passenger in the truck while also trying to escape, faces lethal injection if he is found guilty.

The instructions — which in capital cases typically include four questions the jurors must answer to determine Falk’s guilt — in this case say that Falk should have anticipated that Martin would murder Canfield by striking her horse with a vehicle. The state is asking the Court of Appeals to amend the instructions, arguing there are no previous cases in which the prosecution had to prove the defendant anticipated the specific manner and means in which a murder was committed.

Co-defense attorney Lane Thibodeaux and Rick Metzel, an Austin lawyer representing Keeling, say that the instructions were written that way because of the language of the state’s indictment of Falk. Thibodeaux also contends that there are not any previous cases that say a judge cannot include manner and means in the jury instructions.

Falk’s trial is scheduled to resume Monday at the Brazos County Courthouse, pending a ruling by the Court of the Appeals on Weeks’ writ of mandamus.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 4-24 Relay.jpg Walking, dining with purpose

    Folks are gearing up for this year’s Walker County Relay For Life on May 2 and festivities get underway this weekend when a special group of people will be honored.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • American dream to become reality

    What happens to a dream when it’s shelved? Will it cause the dreamer to loose faith in themselves?
    Huntsville resident Laura Delfin grew tired of wondering these very questions. She had deferred her dream of becoming a United States citizen for the last 10 years.

    April 23, 2014

  • Texas Bankers Hall of Fame names four honorees

    The selection committee of the Texas Bankers Hall of Fame announced the selection of Tieman H. Dippel Jr., Tom C. Frost, Joseph M. Grant and Rogers Pope Sr. as this year’s honorees to be inducted Thursday in the Lowman Ballroom of Sam Houston State University.

    April 23, 2014

  • Literary scholar named SHSU humanities, social sciences dean

    Abbey Zink, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of English at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, has been appointed the dean of Sam Houston State University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

    April 23, 2014

  • 4-23-the-hive-Behind-The-Hive.jpg THE HIVE: Behind the scenes at The Hive

    The Hive is about more than just journalism. It’s about expanding horizons.
    Being a part of a broadcast journalism team is a huge step for many students.
    Some students come equipped with a level of charisma that makes it easy to be on camera, others really have to push themselves.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-23-hive-GGs-Spring-Show-Dress-Rehearsal.jpg THE HIVE: May we have this dance?

    Recently, the Huntsville High School Grenadier Guards traveled to Galveston to compete in the Showtime International National dance competition. The dance team took home a national first-place award for team modern, and national second-place awards for team pom, contemporary and open.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-23-the-hive-CTE-Goes-CSI.jpg THE HIVE: CTE goes CSI

    Some students in the CTE Department’s (Career and Technology Education) forensics class at Huntsville High School got a chance last week to get “hands on” at the Brayton Fire Training Field in College Station.
    With simulated crime scenes, demonstrations of arson investigation techniques, students got up close and personal with authentic crime scene situations.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-23-the-hive-MTB-article-picture.jpg THE HIVE: Hornet mountain bikers make strong showing

    It’s 10 o’clock on Sunday morning.
    With cloudy skies and heavy air, members of the Huntsville High School mountain bike team line up at the starting line. With adrenaline pumping and legs eager to start pedaling, the bell sounds.
    They’re off.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-23-Davison,-Brent.jpg Infant stable, but still critical

    A 2-month-old baby who was found unresponsive at a Huntsville residence last week is in stable but critical condition at a Houston hospital.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Historian: Let’s talk about civil rights in Huntsville

    In 1965, the civil rights movement made its way to the city of Huntsville, beginning with a sit-in at the Cafe Raven, a popular restaurant at the time.
    To celebrate next year’s 50th anniversary of the move toward racial integration, the Sam Houston Memorial Museum will be hosting an oral history event for citizens and senior citizens to get together and share their accounts of the civil rights movement in Huntsville on Thursday night at 7.

    April 22, 2014

Photos


House Ads
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
Facebook
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide