Concerns that a mentally ill, undocumented man from Honduras was a victim of mistakes by his lawyers led the U.S. Supreme Court to consider the case of Carlos Ayestas.
The mentally ill death row inmate from Harris County in Texas argues a series of mistakes by his trial lawyers resulted in his death sentence when he was 28 in 1997.
His new attorneys claim the jury was not party to mitigating evidence that could have averted the death sentence at the original trial.
The case of Ayestas was recently highlighted in Mother Jones. The article noted that even after the Honduran national appealed to federal court in 2009, no investigation took place into his personal history.
Nor did the courts look too deeply into Ayestas’ mental health. In other words, the details from his past and his personal history that could have saved him from the death penalty were not highlighted, according to his lawyers.
Earlier this year, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear Ayestas’ case this fall.
A brief filed in the summer noted he will ask the nation’s highest court to enforce statutes that are meant to protect impoverished defendants facing execution.
Lawyers for Ayestas will ask why state resources that should have been made available to pay for investigations or experts in the case were denied during his appeals process.
Ayestas was charged with murder in 1995. He arrived in the United States seven years earlier.
He was accused of being one of three men who fatally strangled a 67-year-old woman during a robbery at her residence in Harris County in Texas.
Concerns that the Honduran was recommended for the death penalty because he was an undocumented immigrant were expressed during the trial.
Harris County Assistant District Attorney Kelly Siegler recommended that Ayestas receive the death penalty based on the fact the victim was elderly and was killed in her own home and Ayestas was not a citizen, Mother Jones reported.
The Honduran’s present legal team branded the fact his nationality played a part in the recommendation as “deplorable.” Ayestas was recommended for the death penalty before he was even captured.
Foreign nationals on Death Row in Texas have a right to consular notice but they don’t always receive it.
Undocumented defendants may also receive poor defense counsel from the outset.
A report from the Fair Punishment Project in 2016 highlighted Harris County as a jurisdiction suffering from some poor lawyers, racial bias, and harsh prosecutors.
At the Medlin Law Firm, we have decades of experience in defending murder cases. Often prosecutors play down mitigating factors as in the case of this mentally ill death row inmate. It’s important to highlight a defendant’s background. Please call us today for a free consultation about your case.