Man on death row becomes first man to be executed in 2017

Convicted murderer Christopher Wilkins, 48, was the first person executed in the United States in 2017. He was injected with the barbiturate drug pentobarbital on Wednesday, January 12 at the Texas State Penitentiary in Huntsville in Walker County.

When asked during his trial if he would rather spend his lifetime in prison or be executed on death row, Wilkins reportedly said, “I haven’t been good to anybody for the last 20 years and I won’t be for the next 20 or the 20 after that.” An appeal made before the United States Supreme Court to stay his execution was denied hours before Wilkins’ execution.

In an interview with the Tribune, Hilary Sheard, Wilkins’ current attorney, said, “The real issue in the case is that he was represented in a critical stage of the process by an attorney who failed to investigate the case and who had agreed to go to work for the District Attorney’s Office, the same office who put Mr. Wilkins on death row.”

Texas had killed 539 people on death row since 1976, the year when the ban on the death penalty was lifted.

If you are charged with a criminal offense in Dallas or another area in Texas, you have a higher chance of getting your sentence reduced or your case dropped completely if you contact our attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter by calling 214-845-7007 today.

Houston’s murder tally stable despite rise in early 2016

According to Houston police data, the total murder tally in the area in 2016 was 302 murders, which is one less than in 2015. However, the statistic is still higher than the five-year average.

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, in a press statement released on Wednesday, January 4, said the Houston Police Department transferred 175 police officers to patrol duties from administrative duties.

Art Acevedo said he will make it a point to thoroughly conduct investigations on felonies to crack down on murders this year. The new police chief plans to focus more on felonies than minor drug offenses. Acevedo noted “When people are shooting people, we need to treat that as if it were a murder, because the person that commits an aggravated assault today is the same person that’s going to commit a murder.”

He will partner with Harris County’s newly installed criminal justice leaders, District Attorney Kim Ogg and Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, on a cite-and-release program for low-level drug offenses.

Our lawyers at the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter, who provide quality legal representation for our clients in Dallas and other areas in Texas, handle criminal defense for cases that involve domestic abuse, assault, and murder, among others. Speak with a qualified member of our legal team by calling our offices today at (214) 845-7007.

Houston man convicted of killing his pregnant wife exonerated

After long proceedings in which 30 witnesses testified and over 200 pieces of evidence were examined, District Judge Larry Gist ruled the murder conviction of 48-year-old Houston, Texas resident David Mark Temple be overturned. Temple is currently serving a life sentence for allegedly killing his pregnant wife, a high school teacher who was seven months pregnant, back in 2009.

Five of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals’ nine judges affirmed Gist’s findings, while three dissented, and one abstained. Temple’s legal counsel, Dick DeGuerin, welcomed the development, amid his growing concerns about the speed of the case. DeGuerin said “I was still concerned because it had taken so long. It’s been a year.” He said he will try to get Temple released on bond and that Temple is “extremely happy and relieved and hopeful that he can be home by at least Christmas.”

If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Dallas or another area in Texas, you should protect your life and reputation by hiring the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter. Contact us at 214-845-7007 to speak with a qualified member of our legal team as soon as you can.

Three states approve measures condoning death penalty

Three states approved state-wide measures in support of capital punishment last Tuesday, November 8. In traditionally liberal California, voters opposed a measure to ban the death penalty and passed a proposal seeking to speed up court proceedings for capital punishment cases. In comparison, voters in conservative Oklahoma passed a measure seeking to secure the use of the death penalty by a two-to-one margin, also allowing lawmakers to assign any method of execution not specifically banned in the United States constitution. Nevada, for its part, voted to reject a ban on the death penalty.

Executions have been put on hold recently in several states because of legal battles surrounding the death penalty, and because of the shortage of drugs for lethal injection. California has the largest number of inmates awaiting execution – around 750 inmates are on death row – but the state performed its last execution in 2006.

If you are charged with a criminal offense in Dallas or another area of Texas, hire the legal representation of our attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter by calling our offices today at (214) 845-7007.

Convicted child sex offender kills wife in Baytown

El Ray Gonzalez, 39, is facing murder charges in relation to the death of his estranged wife, Elva Gonzalez, 41, on the front lawn of her house in Baytown, Texas last Sunday, October 30.

According to preliminary investigations, the Gonzalez’ children – aged 16 and 21 – were able to call the police when El Ray first arrived in Elva’s house. When police arrived at the house in the 1900 block of Mississippi Street, El Ray was walking Elva outside the house at gunpoint. He then shot her several times before receiving a wounding shot from a police officer. El Ray received medical attention for his wound and was immediately arrested. The victim’s children were not hurt during the incident.

Supposedly, Elva filed a restraining order against her estranged husband days before the shooting happened, but the Baytown Police Department could not confirm this report. Department of Public Safety records show that El Ray received a conviction for the sexual assault of a three-year-old back in 2005.

Being charged with a criminal offense can have damaging consequences on your life. Contact the legal services of our criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter, who provide legal services to clients who live in Dallas by calling our offices today at (214) 845-7007.

Austin man charged with indecent exposure

Forty-one-year-old Austin, Texas resident Peter Phelan was charged with indecent exposure on Saturday, October 15. Police caught him masturbating on the second floor of Austin’s Public Library, which is located at 800 Guadalupe Street.

Members of the Austin Police Department responded to calls of concern from Austin Public Library patrons, who said there was a “suspicious person” lurking in the building. When police arrived, they caught Phelan with a newspaper spread over his lap. He had a computer screen in front of him showing a male and a female having sexual intercourse. Phelan was arrested and is now behind bars with a $3,500 bond attached to him as a result of the action.

Call 214-845-7007 if you are charged with a criminal offense in Dallas or another area of Texas. Our attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter can provide you with a strong and comprehensive legal defense strategy to lessen the blow of a conviction to your future.

Barrio Azteca gang member gets 20 years in jail

32-year-old El Paso, Texas resident and Barrio Azteca gang member Luis Humberto Hernandez Celis was sentenced to 20 years in prison for racketeering, conspiracy, and drug trafficking offenses.

According to federal officials, the Barrio Azteca gang started operating in the late 1980’s as a prison gang and later became a transnational criminal organization based in West Texas and Mexico. The gang has a militaristic command structure that includes “captains,” “lieutenants,” “sergeants,” and “soldiers” who perform criminal activities such as drug trafficking, money laundering, intimidation, threats of violence, and murder. Hernandez Celis said the gang members charge a “street tax” or “cuota” on businesses and criminals who conduct business on their turf.

Money collected is deposited into prison commissary accounts of gang members and used to pay for defense lawyers or is reinvested into the organization to buy drugs, guns, and ammunition.

A criminal conviction can lead to jail time, fines, probation, and other penalties. To increase the chances of having your criminal charges dropped, seek the legal services of the attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter in Dallas by calling our offices at (214) 845-7007.

Dallas teacher charged with sexual abuse of young child

The Dallas Police Department recently took 53-year-old Dallas ISD elementary school teacher Jorge Ruiz into custody. Ruiz taught at Arthur Kramer Elementary School and was arrested on Wednesday, October 5 around 6:30 a.m. on charges of continuous sexual abuse of a young child and indecency with a young child by contact. He was detained in Lew Sterrett Jail at the North Tower Detention Facility with bail set between $200,000 and $100,000 for each offense.

According to the police, a therapist called their hotline on Friday, September 30 and told them about an incident that her seven-year-old client recalled for her. The seven-year-old said that Ruiz, her first-grade teacher, asked her to put her hands inside his pocket because there was a bunny inside while other students were out of the classroom during recess.

If you are facing a criminal charge – whether it is your first time or you are a repeat offender – seek legal help from our attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter. Not only are our legal representatives competent and aggressive, they are also compassionate and have a knack for developing strong legal strategies. Call our offices today at 214-845-7007 to learn more.

Human rights advocate to spend five years in jail

Dallas, Texas activist Dominique Alexander, who founded the Next Generation Action Network, was released from prison on Wednesday, September 21 after receiving a sentence of five years in jail on Tuesday, September 13. Alexander pleaded guilty to a charge of serious bodily injury to a child in 2011. The Next Generation Action Network is a nonprofit organization that advocates equality for all races, religions, and nationalities.

District Judge Gracie Lewis subtracted more than three years from his sentence, using the time Alexander served on probation as a factor in the sentence, to which defense attorney Debbie Sanchez said, “I’ve never seen that happen, ever.” Alexander was one of the organizers of a downtown rally that was interrupted when gunman Micah Xavier Johnson opened fire on the police detail assigned to keep the peace at the protest on July 7, 2016, resulting in the death of four Dallas police officers and a public transit officer.

Our attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter provide legal services for our clients in Dallas and handle criminal defense cases such as assault and gun possession. If you have questions regarding your legal issues, please contact our firm by calling (214) 845-7007.

Number of death penalty executions lulls in Texas

It has been more than five months since Texas executed someone on death row: the longest time that executions were postponed since 2008.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which recently issued four stays in four weeks, has stopped six executions. Though executions and the ordering of death sentences have continuously dwindled in recent years, it’s “unusual” for Texas to experience such a long gap in executions, said Court of Criminal Appeals Judge Elsa Alcala. Alcala is a staunch opponent of the death penalty and how it is applied in Texas, noting changed witness testimony and junk science as serious issues.

According to at least two judges on the state’s highest criminal court, it was through the effort of defense attorneys that executions are on the decline recently. With this development, those who oppose the death penalty are optimistic that courts are thinking twice before ordering executions.

If you are accused of a crime, the attorneys at the Law Offices of Mark T. Lassiter can help you achieve a reduced sentence. Contact us at (214) 845-7007 to see how we can handle your case.

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