— By CHRISTIN COYNE
Citing a month-old law involving the punishment of 17-year-old capital murder defendants, a state appeals court Thursday rejected an appeal by teenage capital murder suspect Jacob Ryan Evans, accused of killing his mother and younger sister.
Evans’ court-appointed defense team appealed a decision in January by 415th District Judge Graham Quisenberry to deny a request to release Evans on the capital murder charge he is facing and to set Evans’ bond at $750,000.
Authorities say Evans repeatedly shot his mother, 48-year-old Jami Evans, and sister, 15-year-old Mallory Evans, on Oct. 4 at their Annetta South residence.
According to a 911 call released by the Parker County Sheriff’s Office, Evans called authorities afterward and admitted to the double slaying.
“I wasn’t even really angry with them,” Evans reportedly told the dispatcher. “It just kind of happened. I had been kind of planning on killing for a while now.”
Attorneys for Evans, who also indicted on two charges of murder, argued that he should not be held on the capital murder charge because he was 17 years old at the time of the alleged offense. The U.S. Supreme Court had previously ruled the only two punishments allowed for capital murder under Texas law at that time – death or life imprisonment without the possibility of parole – are unconstitutional for those under 18.
Since Quisenberry’s decision, Gov. Rick Perry signed a bill into law July 22 that amends sentencing rules to require that a defendant found guilty of capital murder as a 17-year-old be sentenced to life with the possibility of parole after 40 years.
Though Evans’ defense argued that the law cannot be constitutionally applied retroactively, the four appellate judges declined to consider that argument in their decision, leaving the Quisenberry’s order standing.
Despite the court’s decision Thursday, a trial isn’t likely to be held in the near future.
The Democrat was unable to reach Evans’ attorney Larry Moore Friday afternoon but the Parker County District Attorney’s Office said the defense could ask that a higher court hear the issue.
Evans has 30 days to file a petition requesting the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals consider an appeal, which is a discretionary decision for the court, Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain said.
After the appeals process has concluded, they will likely need to hold hearings on other pretrial matters before a trial date can be scheduled, Swain said.