Saturday, October 02, 2010

Reference To Defendant's Satanist Beliefs Is Not Basis For Reversal of Death Sentence

In Davis v. State of Texas, (TX Ct. Crim. App., Sept. 29, 2010), a Texas appellate court rejected a defendant', appeal of his death sentence, finding that defendant's various claims of prejudice because he was a Satanist did not call for reversal of the jury's decision in the punishment phase.  The issue arose on a retrial of the penalty phase of his case after his successful appeal.  Defendant had become a Satanist while in prison. the court rejected defendant's objection to the prosecutor's statement in closing argument that evidence of defendant's affiliation with Satanism is another piece of the puzzle for the jury to consider on the issue of whether defendant would likely pose a danger in the future. The appeals court also upheld the trial court's rejection of for cause challenges to two jurors who defendant claimed would be prejudiced against him because of his Satanist affiliation. [Thanks to Eugene Volokh via Religionlaw for the lead.]