Naked City

Yogurt Shop Goes to CCA

On May 28 the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals heard oral arguments in the appeal of Robert Springsteen, the first of two defendants convicted for the 1991 yogurt-shop murders. Springsteen was sentenced to death in 2001 for his role in the Dec. 6, 1991, quadruple homicide at the I Can't Believe It's Yogurt! shop off Anderson Lane. Springsteen gave a lengthy confession to police after hours of interrogation in September 1999, which he has since recanted and claims was coerced. At issue on appeal is whether prosecutors erred in allowing portions of the confession of Springsteen's co-defendant, Michael Scott, to be read into evidence during Springsteen's trial, without allowing defense attorneys to cross-examine Scott. (Scott was tried separately in 2002, found guilty, and sentenced to life in prison.) Springsteen's trial attorneys objected vociferously to the inclusion of Scott's confession at the trial, arguing that this violated Springsteen's Sixth Amendment right to confront his accusers.

Even though Travis Co. prosecutors dismissed these concerns at the time, District Attorney Ronnie Earle in January dropped all charges against the third yogurt-shop defendant, Maurice Pierce, citing constitutional issues similar to those raised by Springsteen on appeal. Earle reasoned that, since Pierce never confessed to the crime, prosecutors could only implicate him through the confessions of Scott and Springsteen, which his office determined could violate Pierce's Sixth Amendment rights. Springsteen's appeal attorney, Mary Kay Sicola, said she expects a decision from the court by early next year.

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