The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals upheld on Wednesday the death sentence of a man from El Salvador convicted of gunning down his two small children at their home in suburban Dallas four years ago.
The court rejected what attorneys for Hector Medina contended were 53 errors in his 2008 trial in Dallas.
Medina, 31, was condemned to death for the slayings of his 3-year-old son Javier and 8-month-old daughter Diana in March 2007 at their home in Irving.
The children's mother had broken up with Medina, asked for a protective order against him after she accused him of abuse and acknowledged at his trial that she had been having an affair with another man who was living in the house with them. Testimony at his trial showed the couple had been renting rooms in their three-bedroom house to help cover the mortgage and the man involved with her was one of four men living there.
On the day of the shooting, the mother was out running errands and the children were left at home with the roommates. They said they heard three or four loud sounds that later were identified as gunshots, then saw Medina walk outside and shoot himself in the head and neck. He survived his wounds. Each of the children had been shot twice.
The day after the shooting, the protective order the woman had requested was issued by a Dallas County court.
Medina's trial was marked by his lead defense lawyer being tossed in jail for a few hours for contempt after complaining that the trial judge wasn't being fair to Medina or the jury after the judge refused a request that the punishment phase of the trial be delayed for three months so a key witness, a neuropsychologist, would testify. The witness was participating in another trial in North Carolina at the time.
The attorney subsequently called no witnesses and gave no closing statement and the jury, which took just six minutes to convict Medina, deliberated 30 minutes before deciding on the death sentence.
In the appeal, lawyers argued that there were errors in jury selection, that Medina's legal defense was deficient because no mitigating witnesses were called and that Medina was denied due process because of scheduling decisions by the trial judge. Attorneys also challenged evidence, including autopsy photos they said were prejudicial, and said the judge should have recused himself.
The challenges all were rejected.
Medina, who can still appeal his case in the federal courts, does not have an execution date.