HOUSTON -- An appeals court has thrown out the death sentence of a man convicted of abusing and killing a three-year-old girl in Dallas.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this week ruled jurors failed to adequately consider Fernando Garcia's own abusive childhood and drug history.
Garcia must be resentenced because of improper jury instructions.
Prosecutors are deciding whether to appeal.
Garcia was convicted for the 1987 rape, beating and strangulation of Veronica Rodriguez in Dallas. The body was found wrapped in a blanket under Garcia's bed in the garage apartment located behind the girl's house.
Garcia was sentenced to death in 1989.
But the appeals court said jurors were given flawed special instructions about mitigating evidence, which a jury can consider that could allow for a lesser sentence.