Prosecutors Come to Defense's Defense as Judge Asks for Death Sentence Reversal

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BRYAN - A spokesperson for the Brazos County District Attorney's Office says they will tell the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals they believe defense attorneys who represented convicted killer John Thuesen in his trial did an adequate job.

Judge Travis Bryan III wrote an opinion last Friday citing numerous reasons he believes the defense did an inadequate job representing Thuesen, who killed a pair of Texas A&M students and siblings in their College Station home in 2009.

Bryan wants the death sentence Thuesen received overturned and a new punishment phase.

In the trial, which took place in 2010, the defense worked to convince a jury that Thuesen should receive life in prison instead of death. Part of the presentation included that Thuesen was dealing with mental issues which may have been brought on by his combat service in Iraq as a Marine.

However, Judge Bryan says defense attorneys Billy Carter and Michele Esparza failed to look into Post Traumatic Stress enough prior to the trial, and that they did not present that issue well enough to the jury. Other issues, including in jury selection and closing arguments, were cited by Bryan.

Brazos County prosecutors do not agree with the judge's opinion, which was based off hearings in 2014 where Thuesen was represented by writ lawyers. The DA's office intends to file specific objections to the judge's opinion. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals will ultimately decide whether a new punishment phase will take place.

According to officials in Austin, they will immediately review all documents when they arrive, but they cannot give a timetable for a decision by the court.

If the punishment is overturned, it would be because the court found deficiencies in the defense presentation, violations of Constitutional rights, and that the result of the trial -- a death sentence based on the jury's decision -- would have been different.

Bryan is not calling for the guilty verdict to be overturned, just for a new punishment phase. A new jury would have to be called for that to take place.

Calls to Carter and Esparza by News 3 have not been returned.