Murderer Returns to Bryan Court Seeking Overturning of Punishment

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BRYAN - A convicted killer is off Death Row and back in Brazos County as lawyers make an appeal for his punishment to be overturned, claiming his defense team during the trial wasn't what it should have been.

John Thuesen, now 30, was sentenced to death in 2010 for the March 2009 murders of his ex-girlfriend, Rachel Joiner and her brother Travis. The siblings were attending Texas A&M and living in the same home in College Station.

At the time of the trial, Thuesen's defense argued that he suffered from mental disabilities, in part due to his military service, and that should keep him from a death sentence.

New lawyers representing Thuesen are arguing that the Marine and Iraq War veteran's defense was insufficient.

Witnesses are being called this week. Judge Travis Bryan III will eventually make a recommendation based on the testimony, which will go to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for a final ruling. That court previously upheld Thuesen's death penalty conviction unanimously as part of the killer's state-mandated appeal.

Lawyers representing Thuesen asked for five days for the hearing before Judge Bryan.