Reading between the lines from this KXAN news story, “Man Faces Life In Prison for Perjury”:
A Liberty Hill man faces life in prison for aggravated perjury charges after claiming he was innocent following a plea bargain with the Williamson County District Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors say Markus Peavy had made false statements in his plea bargain and the writ when claiming he was not guilty of DWI charges. Peavy is two years into a 55-year sentence for a fourth DWI conviction.
The defendant must have signed paperwork and been sworn in to give oral testimony at his plea of guilty two years ago – either “in exchange” for an agreed sentence of fifty-five years, or possibly plead unnegotiated, i.e., threw himself on the mercy of the court (not usually a good idea in Wilco).
At some point in the penitentiary, a jail house lawyer either helps him file or files a writ on his behalf, alleging among other things, that he is innocent. A sworn “this is true and correct” affidavit is signed by the defendant and filed with the writ.
Texas Penal Code Section 37.03, Aggravated Perjury:
(a) A person commits an offense if he commits perjury as defined in Section 37.02, and the false statement:
(1) is made during or in connection with an official proceeding; and
(2) is material.
(b) An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree.
Putting aside general notions of decency, fair play, common sense, judicious use of taxpayer monies and simply grading for creativity alone…? Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley gets an A+ on this one.
You walk into court, swear under oath that you are guilty, and then later swear in your writ that you are not. Seems to fit the language if not the intent of the statute.
But wait a minute. How are they going to prove which was the lie? Was he lying the first time, when he said he was guilty? Or the second time, when he said he wasn’t?
Texas Penal Code Section 37.06 Inconsistent Statements:
An information or indictment for perjury under Section 37.02 or aggravated perjury under Section 37.03 that alleges that the declarant has made statements under oath, both of which cannot be true, need not allege which statement is false. At the trial the prosecution need not prove which statement is false.
Of course, they’ve already extracted the 55 out of him without even going to trial the first time around. What’s going on here? I think his trial defense lawyer, Scott Steele, hits it right on the nose:
"Maybe they are trying to make a point not to engage in the procedure if they do a plea bargain,” said Steele.
Aha! The chilling effect. Stack a few 25 to life sentences on top of a few defendant’s plea bargains, and you’ll put the jail house writ writers out of business (and maybe some appellate criminal defense lawyers too).
[Update: Guilty. 30 years. Stacked.]