TERRELL, Texas — Earlier today, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeal handed down an opinion vacating a death sentence and ordering a new punishment trial for Charles Brownlow — who was previously convicted of capital murder in the October 2013 slaying of Terrell's Ali Market clerk 22-year-old Luis Gerardo Leal-Carillo.
Brownlow, on the same day of Leal-Carillo's killing, on October 28, 2013, was also accused of going on an hours-long killing spree — first shooting and killing his mother, 61-year-old Mary Brownlow and setting her house on fire, his aunt, 55-year-old Belinda Young Walker, and friends Kelleye Pratt Sluder and Jason Michael Wooden.
The court's opinion does not overturn the verdict however, and affirmed Bronwlow's conviction for capital murder.
"We affirm the judgment of the trial court as to guilt," stated the opinion, which was released earlier today and obtained by inForney.com. "We reverse the judgment of the trial court as to punishment and remand the cause for a new punishment proceeding."
A jury will now be called to hear evidence in the punishment phase to determine either a sentence of death or life in prison without parole, while considering Brownlow's mental competency.
Testimony during the initial trial indicated Brownlow scored an IQ of 67 and, a few months later, a 70, which is in the "intellectual disabled mild range."
The courts opinion to reverse the judgement is based on the trial courts use of a standard for evaluating intellectual-disability claims as set forth in Ex parte Briseno instead of standards established in the United States Supreme Court's decision in Moore v. Texas.
"As a result, the jury was prevented from evaluating appellant’s claim of intellectual disability under a United States Supreme Court-approved diagnostic framework, in violation of his constitutional rights," stated the opinion.
"We conclude that appellant was harmed by the pervasive influence of the Briseno standard at his trial and, thus, he is entitled to a new punishment hearing."
As of this report, Brownlow remained jailed at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Polunsky Unit in Livingston, Texas, on Death Row.