Shooting convictions, sentences upheld

Posted Monday, Apr. 22, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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In a decision handed down recently, an appeals court upheld three aggravated assault convictions and sentences of 60, 20 and 10 years in prison assessed by a Parker County jury in the June,2011 trial of a man accused of ramming a vehicle into a car with his estranged wife and her cousin inside and then shooting the wife in both legs.

David Daniel Duff, 43, of Wise County, had been served with divorce papers the morning of the shooting and immediately went to where he believed his wife was living, according to trial testimony. After using his vehicle to ram the vehicle the women were driving into a pipe fence, Duff got out of his vehicle, went to where his wife was getting out and shot her in both legs with a 10mm handgun.

He then held the gun to the wife’s head as a brief standoff took place. The wreck, shooting and standoff, during which the victim begged for her life, were all captured on a 911 call on the victim’s cell phone, which was played for jurors. On the recording, Duff can be heard yelling, “This is all your fault” at the victim as she lay on the ground bleeding and crying.

In his appeal, Duff’s contention that he should have been allowed to withdraw his guilty plea in the middle of the trial was rejected by the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth. They also denied his request for a new trial based upon an allegedly improper comment by the prosecution during closing argument and another claim that a prosecution witness improperly referred to his being incarcerated pending trial as a fact that made her feel safer.

The appeals court concluded that there was no error in the trial court’s judgment and affirmed Duff’s three convictions and the corresponding sentences.

“This case was the worst nightmare of every person who files for divorce,” said Assistant District Attorney Jeff Swain, who tried the case with Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Catania. “The appellate court’s ruling will allow the peace of mind that the victims got from the jury’s verdict to continue into the future.”

According to Assistant District Attorney Eddy Lewallen, who handled the case on appeal for the prosecution, Duff could still appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

“I am doubtful that our state’s highest criminal appeals court will choose to hear Mr. Duff’s case because it really does not present any new legal issues or unusual fact situations,” Lewallen said.

Duff will not become eligible for parole until he has served half of the longest sentence which will be in November 2040, Swain said.

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