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HOUSTON (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has ruled prosecutors can call a death row inmate to testify at a hearing despite 5th Amendment protections that allow defendants to refuse to testify against themselves.
The state’s highest criminal court ruled 8-1 Wednesday that prisoner Hector Medina can be put on the witness stand at an evidentiary hearing examining his claim that the legal help at his murder trial in Dallas was deficient.
According to court documents, prosecutors want to know if Medina knowingly agreed to his trial lawyers’ strategy. They’ve given Medina immunity preventing them from using anything he says in future prosecutions.
Medina’s appeals lawyers asked the appeals court to block any forced testimony.
Medina, from El Salvador, was condemned for killing his 3-year-old son Javier and 8-month-old daughter Diana in Irving in 2007.
The children’s mother had broken up with Medina, asked for a protective order against him after she accused him of abuse and acknowledged at his trial that she had been having an affair with another man who was living in the house with them. Testimony at his trial showed the couple had been renting rooms in their three-bedroom house to help cover the mortgage and the man involved with her was one of four men living there.
On the day of the shooting, the mother was out running errands and the children were left at home with the roommates. They said they heard three or four loud sounds that later were identified as gunshots, then saw Medina walk outside and shoot himself in the head and neck. He survived his wounds. Each of the children had been shot twice.
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