The Supreme Court let stand Monday the death sentences of a Texas inmate who argued he received ineffective assistance of counsel during his initial trial and sentencing.
Terrence Andrus was convicted of capital murder in the unsuccessful carjacking at age 20 while under the influence of PCP-laced marijuana. Andrus killed car owner Avelino Diaz and bystander Kim-Phuong Vu Bui by firing several shots.
Andrus’ new lawyers claimed that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to investigate or present mitigating evidence, including the fact that Andrus’ childhood was marked by neglect and that he grew up surrounded by violence and abuse.
Last year, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals declined to grant a new punishment trial to Andrus for the 2008 shooting deaths. He originally was sentenced to death in 2012.
The high court said then the Texas appeals court should review whether the “abundant” amount of mitigating evidence not presented during the trial should mean he deserves another punishment trial.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor in dissent said the case was a clear incident of ineffective counsel for not considering the mitigating circumstances.
“I agree with the dissenting judges,” Sotomayor wrote. “Andrus’ case cries out for intervention, and it is particularly vital that this Court act when necessary to protect against defiance of its precedents.”
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