Capital murder conviction upheld

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A Texas appellate court has upheld the conviction of a man found guilty of capital murder by a Bowie County jury in the death of a father who was shot to death while waiting for a school bus.

Anthony Wilson Jr., 21, is one of four men charged in connection with the March 29, 2016, death of Casey Smith. Smith, 28, often parked outside of a friend’s home on Mamie Street in Texarkana, Texas, for a school bus carrying his wife’s children. Witnesses at Smith’s trial testified the bus was rerouted by police so that the children would not see Smith’s body in the street.

Marshall Vallejos, 24, Jailon Gamble, 22, and Jaquelle Rogers, 23, were charged in the case as well. Vallejos pleaded guilty in 2017 to murder and is serving a sentence of life with parole possible. Charges remain pending against Rogers and Gamble, both of whom testified against Wilson at his trial.

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Rogers and Gamble testified that they had been riding around with Vallejos and Wilson smoking marijuana. Both men said Wilson had a gun and provided a gun to Vallejos. Wilson caught sight of Smith as the men drove on South Lake Drive and Smith pulled into a Dollar General Store. Wilson told Gamble to park nearby as he and Vallejos walked to the Dollar General to rob Smith. But the men ran into Vallejos’ mother and abandoned their plan until Wilson spotted Smith parked in front of a house in the 2400 block of Mamie Street where he often waited for the school bus.

Rogers and Gamble testified that Wilson decided he and Vallejos would approach Smith and distract him by asking for a light for a marijuana cigarette Wilson carried. The men testified that Gamble stayed in the car while Rogers walked a short distance down a trail to watch as Vallejos and Wilson approached the car.

Rogers testified that he could not hear what was said when the sound of gunshots rang out. The men were spotted running by several witnesses.

Wilson shot Smith at least four times with a .380 semi-automatic pistol and inadvertantly shot Vallejos in the knee. Vallejos shot Smith once in the jaw with a .357 revolver.

On appeal, Wilson argued that the instructions read to the jury before their deliberations were misleading and left the jury with a mistaken impression of how to apply the law when deciding if Wilson was guilty of capital murder. The 6th District Court of Appeals in Texarkana disagreed and ruled against Wilson in an opinion issued Wednesday.

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