TERRELL, Texas — The death sentence for Charles Brownlow, the Terrell man who shot and killed five people on October 28, 2013, was reversed early last year due to a ruling from the United State Supreme Court which changed the standards for determining whether a person is intellectually disabled.
While the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed Brownlow's guilt in a February 2020 opinion, his death sentenced was reversed and his case was returned to the trial court for punishment. Now, after finding Brownlow to be intellectually disabled under the new standards, he will be automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility for parole, the Kaufman County District Attorney's Office announced today.
"After consulting with multiple experts, the Criminal District Attorney has determined that under the new standard for intellectual disability, Brownlow is intellectually disabled," read the statement from the Kaufman County District Attorney's Office. "He is therefore constitutionally protected from receiving the death penalty."
Because of this constitutional protection, Brownlow will be automatically sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, according to the DA's office.
“Although Charles Brownlow will not receive the death penalty due to his intellectual disability, our citizens are protected from potential future danger from Brownlow,” stated Kaufman County District Attorney Erleigh N. Wiley.
Brownlow was convicted of capital murder in the October 2013 slaying of Terrell's Ali Market clerk 22-year-old Luis Gerardo Leal-Carillo. On the same day of Leal-Carillo's killing, on October 28, 2013, Brownlow 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.
During his original sentencing, Brownlow argued he was intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for the death penalty. A jury decided otherwise and sentenced him to death.
Testimony during trial indicated Brownlow scored an IQ of 67 and, a few months later, a 70, which is in the "intellectual disabled mild range."
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals February 2020 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.