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Fort Worth judge dismisses guilty plea in murder case

A Fort Worth judge in a murder case has thrown out a Keller, Texas, woman's plea agreement and ordered a murder trial after Tarrant County prosecutors expressed concerns about the woman's claims of innocence. Initially charged with murder in association with the death of her husband, the woman later reached a plea agreement on lesser charges of deadly conduct and tampering with evidence.

Despite having agreed to a guilty plea, the woman continued to claim she is innocent in the shooting death of her husband. In an interview during her incarceration, she professed her innocence and then reiterated these claims during last week's hearing. Due to a sense of legal and ethical obligation, the prosecutors felt uncomfortable agreeing to the plea when the accused persisted in proclaiming her innocence.

The judge presiding over the hearing then recused himself from any future proceedings and ordered a criminal trial for the case. During the hearing, the lawyers in charge of the woman's defense also asked to be recused from the case. The judge made a statement that he could no longer officiate during the woman's trial because he witnessed her inconsistent testimony.

Inconsistent statements have plagued this case since the murder occurred in 2011. First claiming an intruder shot her husband, the woman then changed her story and claimed her husband shot himself. She said she lied to protect their young daughter. She has also allegedly made statements accusing police detectives of coercion during questioning.

Controversial murder and criminal defense cases like these shine a bright light on the importance of acquiring good legal representation as early as possible. From plea negotiation to criminal trial proceedings, all Americans have the right to the protection a legal defense provides. In many cases, a good criminal defense lawyer helps improve communication between all parties and may prevent the backpedaling that occurred in this particular murder case.

Source: Star Telegram, "Judge throws out Keller woman’s guilty plea, calls for murder trial" Deanna Boyd and Mitch Mitchell, Feb. 10, 2014

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