DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – He’s a convicted cop killer who threw what were widely described as tantrums during his trial. Now, a federal court has opened the door for him to get a new one. The decision has outraged the officer’s widow.
Licho Escamilla’s 2002 capital murder trial in ended with a death sentence and the defendant throwing water at the jury.
Escamilla was convicted of shooting and killing Dallas police Officer Christopher Kevin James outside a Dallas nightclub in 2001.
Officer James’ widow, Lori, remembers events during the trial. “Just the screaming and the sheer terror that took place. After that moment, I can’t believe I could have to endure anything like that again.”
Lori thought that day in the courtroom was the last time she would see the man who murdered her husband. “I thought this would he over. I mean, it’s been 13 years.”
It was Thanksgiving weekend in 2001 when a fight inside Club DMX spilled into the parking lot. Officer James was working off-duty security at the venue to support his wife of only six weeks and his 6-year-old daughter.
Naively Lori remembered thinking, “Nothing could happen to him. I thought he was invincible.”
Homicide Detective Scott Sayers was a patrol officer and closer to James than anyone on the force. “He’s a hero. He died saving lives that night.”
Sayers and Lori James learned Wednesday that Escamilla, who’s on death row, could get a new sentencing trial because details of his abusive childhood were not brought up during the first proceedings.
Sayers said, “I think I’m just very disappointed and shocked.”
Evidence from Escamilla’s trial revealed that what happened to Officer James in that nightclub parking lot was nothing short of brutal.
Witnesses testified the wounded officer had taken cover behind a car when Escamilla found him and fired three shots into his head.
Escamilla showed no remorse during a jail interview with CBS 11 News after his arrest. His demeanor only adds to the frustration of the officer’s family, who fear another chaotic scene in the courtroom if Escamilla is retried.
For now, Lori James is left dismayed. “I can’t even believe that the courts would hear it. It’s embarrassing.”
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