HOUSTON (AP) - A federal appeals court has ruled that an East
Texas jury improperly brought a Bible to deliberations in a capital
But the three judges of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
panel weren't convinced that Scripture prejudiced jurors' decision
to send a Waco man to death row.
The ruling comes in the case of Khristian Oliver, whom a
Nacogdoches County jury sent to death row in 1999. He and three
companions were convicted in a break-in at a home where 64-year-old
Joe Collins was pistol-whipped and fatally shot.
Oliver's three accomplices received prison terms ranging from
five to 99 years. He got the death penalty and in his appeals
lawyers contend that jurors improperly consulted Scripture that
called for death as punishment for murder.
The appeals court says it saw insufficient evidence to overturn
decisions from Oliver's trial court and the Texas Court of Criminal
Appeals that upheld the jury verdict.
No execution date has been set.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)