Micah Crofford Brown has lost the most recent appeal of his death penalty capital murder case.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued the decision Wednesday, responding to a writ of habeas corpus filed by the Office of Capital Writs & Forensic Warrants following an evidentiary hearing in October, 2018 before 196th District Court Judge Andrew Bench.
Bench later entered findings of fact and conclusions of law recommending that relief be denied.
Wednesday’s ruling from the court indicated eight allegations were presented in support of the writ, including ineffective assistance of counsel for failing to investigate and present mitigating evidence, including claims Brown suffers from autism spectrum disorder.
The appeals court denied the writ.
“Applicant has not shown that counsels’ representation fell below an objective standard of reasonableness under prevailing professional norms; nor has he shown that there is a reasonable probability that, but for counsels’ actions, the result of the trial or appellate proceedings would have been different,” the opinion stated. “We adopt the trial court’s findings of fact and conclusions of law. Based on the trial court’s findings and conclusions and our own review, we deny relief.”
Brown does not yet have an execution date scheduled.
Brown was convicted in May, 2013 of capital murder and sentenced to death by lethal injection in connection with the shooting death of his ex-wife, Stella Michelle “Doc” Ray, a Caddo Mills Independent School District teacher.
Testimony during the trial indicated Ray was shot and killed in Greenville on the night of July 20, 2011 as the result of a dispute with Brown concerning the couple’s two children.
After the conviction and death sentence were previously upheld by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, a post conviction writ was filed in 2015 by the Office of Capital Writs & Forensic Warrants, a Texas state public defender office that represents individuals in state post-conviction litigation.
The 124-page document listed multiple alleged issues with Brown’s conviction and sentence, including ineffective assistance by the trial and appeals defense attorneys, improper arguments by prosecutors during the punishment phase, and failure to present evidence during the punishment phase that Brown suffers from autism spectrum disorder, which affects communication and behavior.
During the evidentiary hearing,Natalie Corvington with the Office of Capital Writs & Forensic Warrants argued Brown’s autism spectrum disorder, had it been presented during his 2013 trial, may have mitigated a jury from issuing a death sentence.
Corvington said the trial defense team failed to listen to a mitigation specialist who suggested Brown may have the disorder, which could be responsible for how he appeared to have acted as remorseless and unemotional during the commission of the murder, during interviews and interrogations and while testifying in his defense during trial.
Tina Miranda with the Texas Attorney General’s Office responded by noting how defense attorneys used information provided by mitigation specialists that Brown suffers from attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. She said the disorder would have accounted for many of the same symptoms.
Miranda said approximately 80 of Brown’s family members and friends were interviewed by the defense about the case, none of whom spoke of the potential for Brown having autism.