Parade suspect’s court antics won’t help appeal, experts say
The legal saga of a man facing the death penalty for a 1981 murder rampage in Texas is still far from over. Even if he does eventually receive the death penalty, experts say it won’t help.
On Tuesday, the 13th District Court of Harris County, in Houston, heard the fate of a man the state has claimed was responsible for killing 12 people, including six children, and injuring 21 others.
Now, the appeal phase has begun, with the state seeking to have a lower court overturn a 2006 ruling that rejected a claim by the death-penalty opponent that his confession was obtained in violation of his rights.
The court will decide whether to continue to hear the case.
After 13 years, the case drew an unusual attention from the media, prompting the death penalty to be reviewed.
“We don’t have a lot of experience with a capital defendant,” said David Cole, the head of the capital cases division at the Harris County Public Defender’s Office. “It’s an opportunity we haven’t had before.”
As the Houston Chronicle and the Houston Press have reported, the suspect in the case, Daniel Fortson, was diagnosed as autistic in adolescence, and has had two brain operations in his life that altered the way his brain functions. He was found guilty by a jury in 1986 of 12 counts of first-degree murder, including four killings of people he knew and five killings of people he did not know.
Fortson has maintained his innocence of all 12 charges. The state has said he committed the killings in one, massive rampage that lasted from October 1980 through December 1981. There, Fortson, 24, repeatedly shot at the home of a woman he knew as Bonnie Satterfield, 18, killing a mother and two daughters and then killed a 16-year-old girl.
In a statement made to the press in February, Fortson said, “I believe that one of the worst injustices that this whole process has brought to my family and me is my inability to confront this court system.”
Fortson said the case is the worst of his life. “I believe