Legal issues delay sentencing in murder trial - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |


Legal issues delay sentencing in murder trial

WACO - It was supposed to be day of testimony in the sentencing phase for convicted murderer Carnell Petetan Jr., but that wasn't the case Thursday as legal issues forced the judge to send the jury home early.

Judge Ralph Strother said he hoped that the jury would be able to deliberate a sentence on Friday, but now a decision might not come until Monday.

The defense continued calling up witnesses Thursday morning, but not until after a 45 minute delay. The state and the defense had a few disagreements about what witnesses were qualified to talk about in front of the jury.

Once the issue was resolved, the defense called up a psychiatrist who had examined Petetan in 1991 at the Texas Youth Commission facility in Brownwood. The doctor said after speaking to Petetan, he diagnosed him with conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. He also said Petetan's IQ was between mild mental retardation and borderline intellectual function.

The only other witness who testified today was a local preacher who had met Petetan while conducting a religious service at the McLennan County Jail. The preacher said his first conversation with Petetan was just a week before the trial. He said Petetan would just stare at him and wonder off during their conversations.

The defense planned to bring in more experts Thursday, but the state argued they needed more time to prepare after they were given a 100-plus page document Thursday morning by the defense. The judge called an early lunch at 10:45 a.m. and said the trial would resume at 1:30 p.m.

When everyone returned from lunch, the defense planned to provide a lengthy PowerPoint that would be shown during testimony, but the state and judge questioned the relevance of most of the slides. For an hour after the extended lunch the judge and both sides reviewed the PowerPoint, and eliminated slides based off of redundancy and relevance.

The state then requested a hearing, without the jury, for the upcoming experts, and that forced the judge to dismiss the jury just before 3 p.m.

Both sides expect to finish testimony on Friday, and will leave it up to the jury to decided Petetan's fate.
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