Convicted Killer's Death Sentence Thrown Out - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Convicted Killer's Death Sentence Thrown Out

District Attorney Randall Sims District Attorney Randall Sims
Local defense attorney Jeff Blackburn Local defense attorney Jeff Blackburn

By Megan Moore
NewsChannel 10

AMARILLO, TEXAS - A convicted Amarillo murderer will head to trial once again after his death sentence was thrown out.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled 52 year old Jimmie Lucero's trial lawyers did not effectively represent him.

That means his conviction stands, but will go through another punishment phase in court.

He was sentenced to death in 2005 for killing his three neighbors in 2003.

He shot an elderly couple and their two daughters - one of which survived.

The Lucero case is one of a handful of cases in Texas where the defense is cited as the reason for a new punishment phase or trial.

One man says defense lawyers are doing a poor job on purpose, while another says they simply do not have the resources to do their jobs well.

Because of the court's opinion, Potter County once again will be the place where a jury decides Jimmie Lucero's fate.

District Attorney Randall Sims says, "we will have to go through the facts and circumstances of the case in order for the new jury to fully understand the circumstances of which the conviction was held."

Lucero's lawyers argued during his trial, the defense did a poor job representing him.

Sims says it wasn't in this case, but in other cases court appointed defense lawyers throw the case to get a guaranteed appeal.

He says it's frustrating for prosecutors because "it's a shame they're allowed to get away with that."

One local defense lawyer, and chairman of the State Bar Committee on Indigent Defense, calls that suggestion ludicrous.

Jeff Blackburn says, "we don't pay lawyers enough money, especially in a capital murder case, to do a good job and do the right thing."

Blackburn believes it would be stupid for a lawyer to throw the case because of the consequences.

"He will probably lose court appointments, he will probably have no more capital murder appointments, he may lose...his certification."

Blackburn says the real trend here is courts blaming the person who has the hardest job in criminal court.

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