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January 30, 2013

Appeal denied in local murder case

GREENVILLE — A Greenville man has the lost an appeal of the conviction and life prison sentence he received for the murder of another local resident.

The Sixth Court of Appeals in Texarkana received briefs Monday in the case of Devin Eugene Royal and issued a denial of Royal’s appeal Tuesday morning.

A jury in the 196th District Court found Royal guilty in June of last year of the 2011 shooting death of Javon Newman.

Royal appealed the conviction, claiming ineffective assistance of defense counsel based primarily on testimony during the trial from a witness who claimed he heard that Royal was a member of a gang.

Royal argued the statement was irrelevant and impermissible character evidence.

However, Justice Bailey C. Moseley, in the court’s opinion, said it was possible the trial counsel had a legitimate reason for not objecting to the testimony.

“One could take into account that many capable attorneys would consider that making an objection to such a passing mention of gang membership would have done more harm to Royal’s cause than good and (despite possible instructions by a trial judge to the jury instructing it to disregard such a statement) would call undue attention to the statement,” Moseley wrote. “Those subscribing to this theory would likely hold the belief that going through the steps necessary to preserve error regarding the testimony would be tantamount to mankind asking Pandora to open the box a second time to ensure that any unreleased evil lurking behind in it might be freed. Royals’ point of error is overruled.”

Officers responded to a call of shots being fired at a local apartment complex early on the morning of July 2, 2011 and found that Newman had been shot multiple times. Individuals who witnessed the shooting identified Royal and Antonio Derrance Fletcher of Greenville as suspects in the offense.

Fletcher was also found guilty of Newman’s murder and was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

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