The Texas Attorney General in the case of Michael Dean Gonzales has conceded error. The reason for the concession of error is that the State's expert had, at least in some cases, found future dangerousness on the basis of race. "The U.S. Supreme Court found that psychologist Walter Qijano was racially biased in his testimony in the case of Victor Saldano. Qijano had also testified as an expert witness in Gonzales’ case."Here is the original report from the Odessa America
Condemned man gets new penalty trial
Michael Dean Gonzales was convicted of capital murder
BY DAVID J. LEE
A 32-year-old Odessa man on death row will see an Ector County courtroom again.
A 5th Circuit Court of Appeals decision handed down Monday upheld the guilty verdict in the 1995 Ector County death penalty case of Michael Dean Gonzales, but the appellate court said the punishment portion of the trial has to be tried again.
“My understanding is that it’s going to have to be retried no matter what on the punishment phase,” Ector County District Attorney Bobby Bland said Thursday.
Bland noted that he has not seen the opinion, and only received information through Texas Attorney General’s Post Conviction Litigation Division attorney W. Eric Dryden.
Efforts to reach Dryden were unsuccessful Thursday.
Efforts to reach Gonzales’ trial attorney Gary Garrison were also unsuccessful Thursday.
Bland said he doesn’t know when the case will come back to Ector County. Gonzales’ attorneys will likely appeal the guilty verdict to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Bland said Gonzales’ appellate attorneys have 90 days to file an appeal with the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We’ve been ordered by the 5th Circuit Court, depending on the Supreme Court, to retry in a reasonable time,” Bland said. “But, we can’t do anything on it while it’s in the appellate process. The appellate process has to run its course before we get the case back and retry the penalty phase.”
Bland said that it’s his understanding that the penalty phase of the trial was overturned because of a faulty witness in the case handled by a previous district attorney.
“My understanding was that we had an expert witness who’d been called in to witness on other cases, and his testimony created some problems in the cases, because there were comments on race,” Bland said. “In our case, I don’t think he testified that way.”
On June 11, 2000, then-State Attorney General John Cornyn announced six convicted killers, including Gonzales, would likely have their death sentences overturned. The U.S. Supreme Court found that psychologist Walter Qijano was racially biased in his testimony in the case of Victor Saldano. Qijano had also testified as an expert witness in Gonzales’ case.
“Basically, we had a problem with an expert witness and the way he’d testified in other cases — ours got lumped in as well,” Bland said.