Texas Man Awarded New Sentencing Trial

Federal criminal appeals occur every day throughout the country. Some appeals go to the appellant’s innocence or guilt. Others attempt to secure different sentences. On Wednesday, August 25, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled on an appeal that falls into the latter category.

The Court of Criminal Appeals awarded Kenneth Dewayne Thomas a new sentencing trial after overturning his death sentence from 1987. Thomas had been on death row for more than two decades after being convicted of murdering Mildred Finch. Although his new sentence has yet to be determined, he received a temporary reprieve from death row.

History of Successful Appeals

Thomas was convicted of murdering Mildred Finch and her husband, Fred Finch, in 1987. In 1990, he successfully appealed the conviction for Fred Finch’s death. At that time, his death penalty sentence for one murder was removed, but the second remained.

In the most recent appeal, Thomas’ attorney convinced the appellate court that new laws about mitigating evidence must be considered. The new sentencing trial will need to take into account the fact that Thomas has “low intelligence, brain damage and mental illness.”

His is not the first appeal of this sort from the 1980s. In fact, there have been many other successful sentencing appeals requiring new sentencing trials to consider mitigating evidence. Thomas is hoping to receive a lighter sentence this time around.

Federal criminal appeals require extensive research and knowledge of federal laws. Anyone considering a criminal appeal should discuss the situation with an experienced appellate lawyer.

Source: Houston Chronicle, “New punishment trial for man on death row 23 years,” Michael Graczyk, August 25, 2010