26 May 2020 :

District Judge Keith Ellison has overturned the conviction and death sentence of Ronald Prible finding that celebrity “true crime” host Kelly Siegler had engaged in extensive misconduct as a Harris County homicide prosecutor in Prible’s capital trial in 2002. The ruling gave the state 180 days to retry Prible or release him, but the state has indicated it might appeal the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Prible, now 48, White, was given the death penalty in 2002 for the April 24, 1999 deaths of 5 family members in Houston. A jury convicted him of capital murder for the shooting deaths of Esteban "Steve" Herrera and Nilda Tirado, and the deaths by smoke inhalation of their 3 children -- Rachel, 7, Valerie, 7, and Jade, 1. District Judge Keith Ellison granted Prible's motion for relief based on his lawyers' arguments that prosecutors suppressed evidence and improperly handled testimony from jailhouse informants. An inmate at the Federal Correctional Institute in Beaumont, Texas, testified that Prible confessed to him he killed the family. Defense lawyers, though, said prosecutors coached informants to speak against Prible, and that his cellmate, Michael Beckcom, acted "based on promises of relief" from investigators. "Beckcom's testimony was plainly the most compelling evidence that the jury heard at trial," Ellison wrote. "Although the defense could and did impeach Beckcom's credibility as a jailhouse smith, they did not have strong impeachment evidence about the actual substance of what he relayed to the jury about Prible's confession. "Prible has made a strong case that there is more than a 'reasonable probability' that exclusion of Beckcom's testimony would have altered the outcome of the trial." Ellison gave prosecutors 180 days to bring a new case against Prible or he'd be entitled to release from confinement. For the Prible case, see also HoC 30/10/2002. 


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