Gabriel Hall death sentence being reviewed by appeals court

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BRYAN, Tex. (KBTX) - A convicted College Station killer's death row sentence is being looked at again by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

In 2015, Gabriel Hall was convicted of murdering Edwin Shaar and brutally attacking his wife Linda at their College Station home. Hall was a high school student at the time and confessed to police he committed the crimes.

Defense Attorneys for Gabriel Hall are taking issue with a video the Brazos County jury was shown before he was sentenced to death. It involves an interview with comedian Jeff Ross.

Ross interviewed Hall and other inmates inside the Brazos County Jail for a TV program in 2015. Ross is known for roasting people, including celebrities with his comedy.

"I think it is a cause for concern. I think it is an issue that jeopardizes the punishment in this case," said Shane Phelps, a local defense attorney, and former prosecutor. Phelps also serves at KBTX's Legal Analyst.

"Prosecutors have to make a very difficult decision when they're considering putting on evidence that is kind of novel like this evidence certainly was," said Phelps. "They have to make a determination as to whether they think they really need it and perhaps, in this case, they thought they really needed it," he said.

Phelps said the appeals court will look at if showing the footage was relevant.

Attorneys for Hall also said in their court filing the defense team wasn't notified about the interview for the comedy show, which was used against him at trial.

"Did you really gain what you hoped to gain that you wouldn't have already been able to argue to the jury?" said Phelps.

The Brazos County Sheriff's Office allowed the comedian and camera crew inside their jail as part of an entertainment program for the inmates.

"I'm well aware of the appeal that the Hall defense has put up and I really cannot comment on that," said Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk.

He did share more details on the intentions of the program.

"It was part of our inmate behavior management program where we encourage good behavior from the second they walk into the jail and in this case for a month prior to the event they had to exhibit good behavior and then personally request to be included in the show," explained Kirk.

The sheriff said Hall and the inmates signed waivers to be in the program. Kirk said Ross wasn't directed to talk to Hall, but after they became aware of the recording, they contacted the TV crew.

"Once we learned that we asked the producers not to use that in the show and they agreed not to," said Kirk.

KBTX also asked the sheriff if they would change their procedures if another program like this wanted to work with them.

"You know if we had this opportunity again we would jump on it was as far as we're concerned a success," he replied. "It accomplished what we set out to do to and that is to encourage good behavior within our jail," he said.

"I think the court of criminal appeals is going to struggle over this case. I think there's probably a chance that it'll be reversed on punishment," said Phelps.

Legal experts said a decision on the appeal could take six to eight months.

The Brazos County District Attorney told KBTX Monday he couldn't do an interview or make comments because the appeal is still pending.