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Denial of Habeas Petition in Murder Case Reversed

By FindLaw Staff on June 30, 2010 2:18 PM

In White v. Thaler, No. 06-20736, a murder prosecution, the court of appeals reversed the denial of petitioner's habeas petition, on the ground that defense counsel rendered ineffective assistance by 1) cross examining petitioner regarding his post-arrest silence, which allowed the prosecutor to impeach him with his failure to tell the police his exculpatory version of the events, and 2) failing to file a motion in limine or object to evidence of the murder victim's pregnancy.

As the court wrote:  "Petitioner-Appellant, Wendell Keith White (White), was convicted of murder and aggravated assault in Harris County, Texas. White appeals the district court's denial of federal habeas relief as to both convictions, arguing that counsel rendered ineffective assistance. We find that counsel rendered ineffective assistance by (1) cross examining White regarding his post-arrest silence, which allowed the prosecutor to impeach him with his failure to tell the police his exculpatory version of the events, and (2) failing to file a motion in limine or object to evidence of the murder victim's pregnancy. We therefore reverse the district court's denial of habeas relief and remand with instructions to grant the writ in accordance with this opinion."

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