The state’s top criminal appeals court on Wednesday upheld the 2012 conviction of Steven Lawayne Nelson, sent to Death Row for killing a young Arlington minister.
Appeals attorneys for Nelson, 28, contended that there were 15 errors at his trial in Fort Worth for the slaying in March 2011 of the Rev. Clint Dobson, 28, pastor of NorthPointe Baptist Church, and the near fatal beating of Judy Elliott, the church secretary.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected all 15 points raised, including that evidence wasn’t sufficient to convict him of capital murder and sentence him to death, that the jury selection and jury instructions were improper and that text message evidence was improperly allowed.
The court also rejected constitutional claims raised against the Texas death penalty.
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Nelson caused mayhem during his time in the Tarrant County Jail.
Minutes after being sentenced to death for killing Dobson, Nelson flew into a screaming fit of rage, breaking a fire sprinkler in his holding cell and sending black water flooding into the courtroom.
Earlier during the trial, he broke an electronic shock cuff from around his ankle, and jurors were shown a video of him screaming and fighting against shackles in jail.
He is the only suspect in the jail hanging death of a mentally ill inmate who was placed in Nelson’s cell area, and the county paid $350,000 to settle a civil rights suit filed by the dead inmate’s sister. He was indicted in the death but wasn’t tried after he was sent to Death Row.
This report includes material from Star-Telegram archives.