Teen's Capital Murder Case Remains in Legal Limbo

Prosecutors want governor to call special session so capital murder statute can be amended

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the two punishment options for a capital murder conviction in Texas are unconstitutional for a defendant younger than 18. (Published Wednesday, May 29, 2013)

    The fate of a Parker County teen charged with capital murder remains uncertain after Texas lawmakers failed to amend the state's capital murder statute.

    The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the two punishment options for a capital murder conviction in Texas are unconstitutional for a defendant younger than 18.

    A grand jury indicted Jake Evans, 17, on capital murder charges in the October shooting deaths of his mother, Jami, and 15-year-old sister, Mallory. Capital murder is punishable by death or life in prison without parole.

    "So, at this point, we have an offense that is legal, but we have no punishment," Parker County Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain said.

    Jake Evans 911 Call

    [DFW] Jake Evans 911 Call
    17-year-old Jake Evans tells a 911 operator he shot his mother and younger sister at his Parker County home and answers her questions in a more than 20-minute call. (Published Friday, Oct 5, 2012)

    Prosecutors from around the state are asking Gov. Rick Perry to call a special session to force a vote on an amendment to the current law.

    "The proposal is that it be life with parole for people who are under 18, which would fit with the constitutional interpretation by the Supreme Court," Swain said.

    The state Senate unanimously passed an amendment, but the House failed to vote on it before the legislative session ended.

    Meanwhile, Evans' defense attorney says that even if the statue is changed, it shouldn't be applied to his client.

    "You have to apply punishment in effect at the time you commit the crime, otherwise, it's not fair," Larry Moore said.

    Moore wants the district attorney to instead try the case as a murder case, but prosecutors do not want to do so because the punishment can be as little as five years.

    Prosecutors say that if the Legislature doesn't act, they may have to try Evans on the capital murder charges and wait to sentence him until action can be taken in the next legislative session.

    In a 911 call after the killings, Evans confessed to killing his mother and sister in their Aledo home.

    "It just kind of happened," he told the dispatcher. "I've been uh, planning on killing for a while now."

    Earlier this year, authorities released a four-page written confession Evans gave to police hours after his arrest. In the confession, the teenager said the remake of a classic horror movie gave him the idea to kill his mother and sister.