Convicted Waco killer’s death sentence overturned

Carnell Petetan, Jr. (Staff photo/file)
Carnell Petetan, Jr. (Staff photo/file)(KWTX)
Published: Oct. 19, 2017 at 8:30 AM CDT
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The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday, on its own motion, vacated a local man’s death sentence and ordered a Waco court to re-hear punishment for a man convicted of murdering his wife.

The court ordered that Carl US Petetan’s death sentence be overturned because it found he suffers from an intellectual disability and therefore is not eligible for the death penalty in Texas.

In 2014, a 19th District Court jury found Petetan, 41, guilty of the 2012 capital murder of his wife, Kimberley Farr Petetan after he broke into her Lake Shore Drive apartment and shot her to death in front of her 11-year-old daughter, then abducted the child.

He later was arrested in Bryan-College Station and the child was recovered unharmed.

Because it was a death penalty case, the conviction and sentence automatically were referred to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

But while the Petetan case was pending on re-hearing, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling on another Texas death penalty case in which it said that a defendant whom the court finds to be intellectually disabled, under Texas law, cannot be put to death.

In the state court’s order the justices wrote: “While this case was pending on rehearing, the United States Supreme Court decided Moore v. Texas.

“In Moore, the Supreme Court held that this Court’s failure to consider current medical standards and reliance on Briseno (another associated decision) failed to comply with the Eighth Amendment and Supreme Court precedents.

“We grant rehearing in this case on our own motion so that the Court may consider Appellant’s tenth, eleventh, and twenty-seventh claims in light of Moore,” the court said.

But in a dissenting opinion, Justice P.J. Keller, later joined by justices Kaesler and Hervey, wrote: “In our opinion, we made a point of saying that (the) appellant’s mental retardation claim would fail.

“Given that fact and the appellant’s decision not to raise (other court precedents) I see no reason to grant a re-hearing on the motion.”

The issue will come back to the 19th District Court where a hearing will be held to re-sentence Petetan without consideration of the death penalty.