Appeals court reverses capital murder conviction

By: MICHAEL GRACZYK, Associated Press
By: MICHAEL GRACZYK, Associated Press

HOUSTON (AP) - A divided federal appeals court panel has thrown out the capital murder conviction of a former Fort Worth street gang leader sentenced to die for gunning down a Dallas father of four during an attempted robbery in 2001.

A three-judge panel of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 on Friday that Nelson Gongora's constitutional rights were violated in comments by a Tarrant County assistant district attorney. The prosecutor told trial jurors that Gongora's refusal to testify at his 2003 trial implied he was guilty.

Gongora was convicted of killing 36-year-old Delfino Sierra outside a party he was attending in Fort Worth.

The court has given Tarrant prosecutors six months to retry Gongora, resolve the case in some other manner or release him from prison.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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