Friday, July 17, 2009

Your Past Can Come Back To Haunt You

An ex-con who tried to steal CD's from a Wal-Mart was sentenced to life in prison for his attempted theft. It seems that jurors had a serious problem with his criminal past which included at 1984 murder conviction.
“They agreed with us that he just needed to go away for the rest of his life,” said Peabody “He was not going to be able to adapt to life in the free world with honest people.”

In August 1984, Leroy and Marilyn Larson were returning home from their honeymoon in Galveston when they spotted Balentine and his older brother, Terry Balentine, standing next to their apparently disabled car at a rest stop in Freestone County — about midway between Houston and Dallas.

“The Larsons stopped to help. They were being Good Samaritans,” Peabody said.

Instead, the newlyweds were forced at gunpoint to drive along back roads while the brothers plotted their next move.

“They discussed the ways they were going to molest the young lady,” Peabody said.

Leroy Larson grabbed the steering wheel, forcing the car off the road. One of the brothers opened fire. Leroy Larson was shot twice.

Marilyn Larson grabbed the keys from the ignition and ran. They began shooting at her.

She was struck twice but managed to flag down a passing Department of Public Safety trooper.

The brothers received three life sentences. Brian Balentine, now 43, was released on parole in August 2006, Texas Department of Criminal Justice officials said. His brother, now 47, remains in prison. Source: Houston Chronicle

The best part of the story is the quote from his defense attorney:
Attorney Earl Pryor, who represented Balentine during the trial, said he was disappointed with the life sentence the jury gave his client for a crime involving a handful of stolen CDs. “I was shocked,” Pryor said. “I was beyond shocked.”

Pryor knew that the prosecutors would bring up the 1984 murder conviction during the punishment phase of the trial but said he didn't realize the impact it would have on the jury.

“There's no doubt in my mind that they wanted to re-punish him some more for that case,“ he said. They just couldn't get past his past.” Source: Houston Chronicle

Yup, I think the jury might have been swayed by his past. At least a little bit.

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