According to court documents Ronald Hamilton and an accomplice would rob a corner store where they would shoot two men inside of building with Ismail Matalkah dying from his injuries
Ronald Hamilton would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death
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Ronald Hamilton Now
|Hamilton, Jr., Ronald James
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Ronald Hamilton Case
A Texas appeals court has bounced back to a lower court the case of a Harris County man on death row, after forensic evidence showed he never committed a second slaying he was accused of in court.
Ronald James Hamilton was sentenced to die 16 years ago for the 2001 killing of Ismail Matalkah during a convenience store robbery on Yellowstone. In a rare move, he pleaded guilty to the crime – and instead focused on begging the jury for a life sentence during the punishment phase of trial.
But to show that he was a future danger and deserved a death sentence, prosecutors presented evidence that Ronald Hamilton was responsible for another murder, the 2001 slaying of Son Vinh Huynh at a convenience store on Holman
An eyewitness spotted the shooter putting down a beer just before the murder, according to court records. Yet, the fingerprint on the bottle turned out to match another man, one who had a long criminal history and matched the police sketch circulated at the time.
Though Houston police had DNA and fingerprint from the beer at the time, it either wasn’t tested at all or else was tested and the results never turned over to Hamilton’s trial lawyers, according to court papers.
“This new evidence establishes that Hamilton is actually innocent of this extraneous offense,” his attorneys wrote in court filings, “that the State failed to reveal this exculpatory evidence and false and misleading evidence regarding the extraneous Holman murder
On appeal, Hamilton’s attorney raised three main issues, including the fingerprint evidence, as well as concerns about earlier bad lawyering.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals didn’t let the defense move ahead with two claims about sub-par legal representation, but on Wednesday the CCA remanded the case to a Harris County court for further review on the claim that Hamilton didn’t commit the earlier murder.
“We have 120 days to file our response,” said Dane Schiller, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office. Hamilton’s current lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.