Yogurt Shop Murder-Conviction Update

Court of Criminal Appeals denies request by Travis Co. district attorney's office to reconsider its ruling earlier this year, overturning capital-murder conviction of Robert Springsteen, sentenced to die in connection with yogurt shop murders case

Texas' Court of Criminal Appeals on Sept. 27 denied a request by the Travis Co. district attorney's office to reconsider its ruling earlier this year, overturning the capital-murder conviction of Robert Springsteen, who was sentenced to die in connection with the infamous 1991 yogurt shop murders case.

After sitting on Springsteen's appeal for nearly three years, the CCA – Texas' highest criminal court – ruled May 24 that while the evidence against Springsteen was legally sufficient (thus avoiding the problem of double jeopardy, should the district attorney's office seek to retry him), the trial court nonetheless violated Springsteen's Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him by allowing into evidence redacted portions of a nontestifying co-defendant, Michael Scott – a violation severe enough that it could have influenced jurors' decisions to convict rather than acquit.

The court punted the case back to Travis Co. District Attorney Ronnie Earle, leaving his office several options, the first of which – asking the CCA to reconsider its May decision – was denied last week by a 6-3 vote of the court. Earle's office now must decide whether to pursue its appeal of the CCA's decision by asking the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene – though the high court, which ruled in 2004 that there is no avenue other than confrontation to satisfy the Sixth Amendment, is unlikely to be persuaded to consider the plea. Supreme-appeal option aside, the office could seek to retry Springsteen (and try to get Scott, who was sentenced to life for his role in the grisly quadruple murder, to testify against Springsteen) or could seek to cut a plea deal, asking Springsteen to plead guilty, perhaps in exchange for time already served on Texas' death row.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Robert Springsteen, Yogurt Shop Murder, Michael Scott, Ronnie Earle, Court of Criminal Appeals

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