Judge denies motion for mistrial, man gets life in prison for capital murder

Posted at 11:35 AM, Dec 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-20 21:12:32-05

A man received a life sentence on Thursday for capital murder. Tyler Clay, 29, will spend life in prison without parole.

Waco Police said Clay conspired to kill 37-year-old Joshua Pittman on Dec. 23, 2015 at the Pick N Pay Foodmart on Faulkner Lane. 

On Thursday, 54th District Court Judge Matt Johnson denied the motion after hearing arguments and testimony from two prosecutors. 

Clay's attorney Randy Schaffer filed the motion after the jury read the guilty verdict on Dec. 6. Schaffer said he filed the motion because McLennan County Assistant Criminal District Attorney Hilary LaBorde showed an unredacted version of a video during closing arguments.

A portion of the video interview had not been admitted into evidence. 

According to prosecutors, during that segment of the video the defendant said 'Nothing like that. So, I don't know why I feel like. I don't know why somebody would say some.'

LaBorde cried on the stand on Thursday as she admitted the error. She added she didn't have enough time to watch the short video before playing it to the jury.

First Assistant District Attorney Robert Moody said it was a mistake. 

"It was a slip up, a miscommunication between her and one of the investigators when they went to embed a video in the Powerpoint presentation. It was a very small thing that got before the jury. They were immediately asked to disregard it by the judge," Moody said.

He added playing the portion of the video did not influence the jury's decision.

However, Clay's attorney Randy Schaffer said the impact is unclear.

"It rings a little hollow to me for them to come back and say you were not really harmed even though we presented evidence to the jury that had been excluded. I had never seen that happen in a trial before and I have been in a lot of courthouses over a lot of years. I don't think it was an accident," Schaffer said.

Clay's attorney plans to file a motion for another trial in February.

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