A Bill for 17-Year-Old Capital Murderers Died in the Pile-Up Behind Wendy Davis' Filibuster

Categories: Legislature

jakeevans.jpg
Jake Evans
Last night, Senator Wendy Davis' epic filibuster against an antediluvian piece of abortion legislation was ended because Roe v. Wade apparently isn't "germane." So, the "unruly mob" up in the gallery finished the job for her. The votes could not be counted in the din before the special session ended.

Senate Bill 5 wasn't the only bill that expired when the clock struck midnight. Currently, there is no constitutional punishment for 17-year-old capital murderers in Texas. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Miller v. Alabama that juveniles -- anyone under the age of 18 -- can't receive automatic life sentences without parole. In Texas, the only sentence for 17-year-old capital murders is mandatory life without parole. So, if you're the Parker County District Attorney and you've got a capital defendant of a certain age scheduled to go to trial next month, you were probably rather hoping legislators would resolve the matter. But legislation to provide for a life sentence with parole withered. There is a local kid to whom this means something:

Jake Evans, an affluent Aledo teen, allegedly murdered his mother and little sister, then calmly phoned 911 and told the operator, "I've been kind of planning on killing for a while now."

See also
-A Parker County Teen Confessed to Murdering His Family, and It's Really Disturbing
-Legislators to Consider Measure for 17-Year-Old Capital Murderers as Jake Evans Trial Looms

There are a dozen cases like his in Houston. But because Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst wouldn't put the bill up for a vote before the abortion legislation designed to effectively shutter just about every clinic in the state, it was scuttled due to an eminently foreseeable filibuster.

Before that, the House tacked on an amendment that would allow for life sentences with or without parole. The option to lock them up forever would remain on the table, but it would allow the state to pass constitutional muster. Problem is, the bill first had to go back to the Senate, which was then in the throes of an episode that could launch a political career into the stratosphere.

What's next? Well, Dewhurst has intimated that yet another special session is all but certain. Governor Rick Perry's office won't say. In the courtroom, all bets are off.

"Honestly, no one really knows. There are some prosecutors who think they can still try to seek a capital murder conviction, but they know there's no sentence for it, and the issue would be thrown to appellate court to decide what to do," said the Texas District and County Attorneys Association's Shannon Edmonds. "Other prosecutors don't think that's a viable option, and instead fear being forced to proceed on lesser crimes with lesser punishments."

For example, if a defendant killed someone during a robbery, the prosecutor must choose between the crimes. He or she might go after them on the aggravated robbery because it's an easier conviction to get. But they'll also incur the wrath of a victim's family, which might feel slighted. And there's no guarantee the defendant will get the maximum punishment, or won't be up for parole in five years.

In Evans' case, the district attorney could try him for the alleged murder of his mother and sister separately. "If you try them separately, it's the only way you can stack (the sentences)," Edmonds says.

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17 comments
Arlington Ed
Arlington Ed

And who's fault is this? Wendy Davis didn't put frivolous idiotic anti-privacy, anti-choice, pro-poverty legislation on the agenda in the first place - that was the Re-pube's choice.

Americano
Americano

This should please the left.  These were just extremely late term abortions. Pity the poor boy, now he has no family.

Adam Silva
Adam Silva

Another reason why Perry should leave divisive issues out of the special session.

wontunow
wontunow

See how destructive Liberals can be.

rcampbell.tx
rcampbell.tx

Something should have been done a year ago. Texas had a year to actually do something and only now are folks complaining there's no time. Simply idiotic. Did the lawmakers miss the Miller v. Arizona opinion? I know they missed the boat before. Anyone remember the Chico's Tacos incident in 2009 where an unconstitutional law, still on the books in Texas, was enforced? Well, El Paso paid out on that one and it only took 10 years for Texas to update the TX Const. to reflect the SCOTUS holding (politics and bigots surely had a hand in that one, though). So folks need to quit bitching that the bill didn't make it because of Senator Davis. Maybe the initiative should have occurred 365 days ago.

Kt Armstrong Althoff
Kt Armstrong Althoff

pah leeze. don't try to turn that shit around.. stirring the pot much? shame shame.

Diane Ames
Diane Ames

I hear there was a line of protesters against that too!

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

No worries, Governor Good Hair just called another special session beginning Monday.

Americano
Americano

Just add two more to the death toll.


Bremarks
Bremarks

Dewhurst could have brought the bill up for a vote before the fillabuster began.  Same with the transportation bill.  But he didn't want to because he wanted Sen. Davis to have to stand there for the extra 15 minutes it would have taken to do the roll call votes on both.  Their failure is on him.  And only him.

animas
animas

As a taxpayer, I am wondering how I can get a refund for this "special session" filled with bills that shouldn't or couldn't pass, (and didn't).  Mr. Dewhurst?

icowrich
icowrich

@wontunow Nonsense.  The filibuster ensured another 30 day legislative session.  If SB5 had passed, there would have been no time for this bill.  The filibuster saved this bill and many others.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

@alteredjustice @bealotcoolerifyoudid  

The funny thing about the special sessions is that the Leg does  have to address the issues that the Governor calls for, but once that is done, they can do anything that they want.  It is for this reason that Governors will not call a special session if there is something that the Leg wants to do but the Governor does not.


For example in this case, they could address the abortion legislation and then repass the ethics legislation.

alteredjustice
alteredjustice

@ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul Interesting. You're probably right, it's just the way I saw it framed in a previous article, they could only address the governor's issues. That's obviously ridiculous so I hope you're right.

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