The 12th Court of Appeals has granted a new punishment trial for a Bulverde man who was convicted of criminally negligent homicide in the 2016 death of a Tyler woman.
According to the recently released opinion, the appellate court ordered that the judgment pertaining to punishment be reversed and the cause be remanded to the trial court for a new punishment trial.
A Smith County jury found James Fulton, 43, guilty Dec. 1, 2017, and sentenced him to 10 years in prison for killing Haile Dawn Beasley in 2016. The jury also determined Fulton used a deadly weapon, his Dodge Ram pickup, to commit the crime when he drove into oncoming traffic, slamming into Beasley’s Ford Focus on Grande Boulevard.
In April, Fulton’s lawyers asked the 12th Court of Appeals to consider the state’s evidence insufficient in demonstrating criminal negligence and what they called ineffective counsel at trial. His attorneys insist Fulton’s conduct was not a gross deviation from societal norms nor did it constitute serious blameworthy conduct.
Fulton’s attorneys raised three issues on appeal, according to court documents.The first issue Fulton’s lawyers addressed was insufficient evidence to support the jury’s verdict.
“He argues that his actions on the night of the collision were not a gross deviation from an ordinary person’s standard of care, which is required to sustain a conviction for criminally negligent homicide,” the opinion reads.
Fulton’s attorneys also presented evidence that Fulton’s trial lawyer provided ineffective assistance during the punishment phase of trial because the lawyer failed to impeach one of the state’s witnesses.
The document said Fulton’s appeal attorneys demonstrated reasonable probability the results of the punishment hearing would have been different had Fulton’s trial attorney impeached the witness.
In a third issue, Fulton’s attorneys claimed the trial court erred when it didn’t allow Fulton to question a juror about potential bias after learning the juror was related to a state’s witness.
“We overrule Appellant’s first and third issues, and sustain his second issue,” the document reads. “Having sustained his second issue, we reverse the trial court’s judgment pertaining to punishment, and remand the case to the trial court for a new punishment trial.”
Fulton remains in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s Daniel Unit in Snyder, according to TDCJ offender information details.