Gwendolyn Green (Jail photo)
WACO (February 8, 2013)—An appeals court has rejected an appeal from a Copperas Cove woman who was sentenced to life in prison for her role in her mother's kidnapping and death.
Gwendolyn Inez Greene, 21, pleaded guilty in February 2012 to aggravated kidnapping in connection with an incident in 2011 that led to her mother's death.
After the plea a Coryell County jury heard testimony in the punishment phase of the trial and sentenced Greene to life in prison.
Greene's lawyer appealed the sentence to the 10th Court of Appeals, in Waco, which on Thursday issued a ruling affirming the sentence and dismissing Greene's appeal as frivolous.
Greene has the option to appeal the sentence to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, in Austin.
Greene must serve at least 30 years of the sentence before she's eligible for parole.
A nine-man, three-woman jury heard testimony from 18 prosecution witnesses during the punishment phase of her trial in Gatesville and decided punishment after an hour of deliberation.
Greene, who was then 19, and a man she identified as her fiancée, Steve Edwin Barker, both of Copperas Cove, were arrested in April 2011 and charged in the death of her mother Catherine Jackson Greene.
Greene told investigators that she struck her mother during an argument, knocked her down, kicked her, beat her about the head with a lead pipe and that she and her boyfriend then bound the 57-year-old woman before placing her in the trunk of a car, according to an arrest warrant affidavit.
Police found the older woman's body in the trunk of a burned out car after a fiery rollover on a rural Coryell County road.
Barker and Gwendolyn Greene were injured in the crash and were flown to Scott & White Hospital in Temple.
They were arrested after they were discharged.
Gwendolyn Greene, who police say was a Copperas Cove High School student at the time, was originally charged with assault with a deadly weapon-serious bodily injury and family violence.
Barker, 32, also was convicted of aggravated kidnapping and sentenced to life in prison.
The silver Honda Accord in which Greene and Barker were riding rolled over twice and burst into flames on Lutheran Church Road seven miles northwest of Copperas Cove.
Investigators said the car was traveling at a high rate of speed and was swerving before it crashed.
Gwendolyn Greene called 911 at least twice after the accident and told a dispatcher that Barker had been ejected and that her mother was in the trunk, according to the affidavit.
When Copperas Cove firefighters arrived at the accident scene in response to a 911 call from Greene, both victims were already out of the car, authorities said.
After dousing the flames, firefighters opened the trunk of the burned-out car and discovered a body, which was burned beyond recognition.