Posted on 7/5/21

A grand jury indicted a Texas sheriff’s deputy on capital murder charges stemming from a shooting incident in April. The ex-sheriff killed his ex-wife, teenage stepdaughter, and the stepdaughter’s boyfriend. The ex-sheriff deputy was arrested on charges involving the sexual assault of a child. His ex-wife and children filed a protective order against him after his arrest. According to prosecutors, the suspect was required to surrender his firearm and wear an ankle monitor tracking device. Law enforcement does not know where he got the weapon he used to kill his family members. 

Understanding Capital Murder Charges in Texas

In Texas, capital murder is the most serious crime. It is also the only crime in Texas punishable by death. Prosecutors will charge a suspect with capital murder when they believe that all of the elements of capital murder have been met. A person commits capital murder when they intentionally kill another person, and one or more of the following elements have been met:

  • The suspect murders a police officer or fireman who is acting in the lawful discharge of official duty, knowing that the victim is a peace officer or fireman

  • The suspect intentionally murders another person in the act of attempting to commit or committing burglary, kidnapping, robbery, aggravated sexual assault, obstruction or retaliation, arson, or terroristic threat

  • The suspect commits murder while attempting to escape or escaping a penal Institution

  • The suspect commits murder while incarcerated in a penal institution and murders another person employed by the penal institution or with the intent to intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination of the profits of a combination

  • The suspect committed murder while incarcerated for murder or while serving a sentence of life imprisonment or a term of 99 years for another murder

  • The suspect murdered more than one person during the same criminal transaction or different criminal transactions, but the murders are committed according to the same scheme or course of conduct 

  • The suspect murdered someone under 15 years of age

  • The suspect murdered another person in retaliation for being a judge in a Texas court

What is the Punishment for Capital Murder?

Capital murder is a capital felony charge. The maximum penalty for a capital murder conviction is death. Texas is one of only 31 states that allows the sentencing of the death penalty, also known as capital punishment for certain crimes. However, prosecutors may not seek the death penalty. In other words, they have the discretion to seek the death penalty. 

When the jury issues their verdict of guilty or not guilty, they are instructed to decide on special issues, such as whether to assign a life imprisonment sentence or the death penalty. Under Texas law, courts must impose a minimum sentence of life imprisonment without parole if they are 18.

Contact a Dallas/Fort Worth Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with capital murder, your very life is on the line. You need an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Abel Law Firm as quickly as possible to schedule your initial consultation.

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Phone: 972.584.7837

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