Monday, June 5, 2000

US SUPREME COURT GRANTS STATE'S MOTION IN CAPITAL CASE

Case Remanded for New Sentencing Hearing

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today said the United States SupremeCourt has granted a request by the State of Texas that the death sentence imposed in thecapital murder case against Victor Hugo Saldano be vacated and remanded for a newsentencing hearing. The new trial will concern only the issue of punishment, not thejudgment of guilt, which remains intact.

Saldano was convicted in 1996 of capital murder in Collin County for the murder of PaulKing. Evidence presented at the trial showed that Saldano and an accomplice used a handgunto kidnap King from a grocery store parking lot. He was taken to a secluded spot on acountry road where Saldano fatally shot King five times, including once in the head atpoint-blank range. Saldano stole King's wallet and watch.

"There is no doubt of Mr. Saldano's guilt. A jury properly convicted him of capital murderand that conviction remains in place. During the sentencing phase of the trial, there wassufficient evidence submitted to the jury of Mr. Saldano's 'future dangerousness,' justifyingthe imposition of the death penalty," Cornyn stated. "Unfortunately, however, evidence ofthe defendant's race was also introduced before the jury by a district attorney as a factor forthe jury to weigh in making its determination. This violated Mr. Saldano's constitutionalright to be sentenced without regard to the color of his skin."

Cornyn also said, "We've been conducting an audit over the past couple of months. We'veidentified eight other cases that may be similar. We will release our findings by the end ofthe week. We will continue to vigilantly monitor all death penalty cases. Our goal is toassure the people of Texas that our criminal justice system is fairly administered."

- Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today said the United States SupremeCourt has granted a request by the State of Texas that the death sentence imposed in thecapital murder case against Victor Hugo Saldano be vacated and remanded for a newsentencing hearing. The new trial will concern only the issue of punishment, not thejudgment of guilt, which remains intact.

Saldano was convicted in 1996 of capital murder in Collin County for the murder of PaulKing. Evidence presented at the trial showed that Saldano and an accomplice used a handgunto kidnap King from a grocery store parking lot. He was taken to a secluded spot on acountry road where Saldano fatally shot King five times, including once in the head atpoint-blank range. Saldano stole King's wallet and watch.

"There is no doubt of Mr. Saldano's guilt. A jury properly convicted him of capital murderand that conviction remains in place. During the sentencing phase of the trial, there wassufficient evidence submitted to the jury of Mr. Saldano's 'future dangerousness,' justifyingthe imposition of the death penalty," Cornyn stated. "Unfortunately, however, evidence ofthe defendant's race was also introduced before the jury by a district attorney as a factor forthe jury to weigh in making its determination. This violated Mr. Saldano's constitutionalright to be sentenced without regard to the color of his skin."

Cornyn also said, "We've been conducting an audit over the past couple of months. We'veidentified eight other cases that may be similar. We will release our findings by the end ofthe week. We will continue to vigilantly monitor all death penalty cases. Our goal is toassure the people of Texas that our criminal justice system is fairly administered."

AUSTIN - Texas Attorney General John Cornyn today said the United States SupremeCourt has granted a request by the State of Texas that the death sentence imposed in thecapital murder case against Victor Hugo Saldano be vacated and remanded for a newsentencing hearing. The new trial will concern only the issue of punishment, not thejudgment of guilt, which remains intact.

Saldano was convicted in 1996 of capital murder in Collin County for the murder of PaulKing. Evidence presented at the trial showed that Saldano and an accomplice used a handgunto kidnap King from a grocery store parking lot. He was taken to a secluded spot on acountry road where Saldano fatally shot King five times, including once in the head atpoint-blank range. Saldano stole King's wallet and watch.

"There is no doubt of Mr. Saldano's guilt. A jury properly convicted him of capital murderand that conviction remains in place. During the sentencing phase of the trial, there wassufficient evidence submitted to the jury of Mr. Saldano's 'future dangerousness,' justifyingthe imposition of the death penalty," Cornyn stated. "Unfortunately, however, evidence ofthe defendant's race was also introduced before the jury by a district attorney as a factor forthe jury to weigh in making its determination. This violated Mr. Saldano's constitutionalright to be sentenced without regard to the color of his skin."

Cornyn also said, "We've been conducting an audit over the past couple of months. We'veidentified eight other cases that may be similar. We will release our findings by the end ofthe week. We will continue to vigilantly monitor all death penalty cases. Our goal is toassure the people of Texas that our criminal justice system is fairly administered."


Contact Mark Heckmann, Heather Browne, or Andrea Horton at (512) 463-2050.

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