East Texas woman convicted in sacrificial killing granted appeal

East Texas woman convicted in sacrificial killing granted appeal

HARRISON COUNTY (KLTV) - A woman who confessed to murdering a man as part of a sacrificial killing has now been granted an appeal by a court.

Marilyn Marche Kirkland, of DeBerry was sentenced in January to 40 years in prison for the slaying of Clinton Wayne Saizon, 36, who was found shot to death in his mobile home on Dec. 5, 2015.

Kirkland claimed it was a moment of temporary insanity induced by drug use. Kirkland pled guilty in a Harrison County district court.

According to KSLA, Assistant Harrison County District Attorney Shawn Connally presented evidence to the jury during her trial.

Kirkland took the stand testifying that she and Saizon had been shooting up meth and reading the Bible on her phone when they decided that one of them needed to be sacrificed. Ultimately, Kirkland claimed that in their drug-induced state, they became convinced that Saizon was the son of the devil and so she shot him.

A forensic pathologist also took the stand in Kirkland's defense, testifying that she suffered a delusional and possibly post-traumatic stress disorder that was made worse by drugs.

Kirkland appealed her sentence, saying that the instructions given to the jury regarding temporary insanity by reason of intoxication were incorrect.

On appeal, Kirkland contends (1) that she suffered egregious harm from that erroneous jury instruction and (2) that it was error not to grant a mistrial based on allegedly improper comments made by the State.

The Court of Appeals Opinion reads as followed:

The relevant portions of the charge are as follows: You are further instructed that in determining the Defendant's punishment, you may take into consideration all of the facts shown by the evidence submitted before you in the full trial of this case and the law as submitted to you in this charge. You are instructed that under our law neither intoxication nor temporary insanity of mind caused by intoxication shall constitute a defense to the commission of the crime.

Since the court found no evidence that the jury actually considered temporary insanity due to voluntary intoxication in assessing Kirkland's sentence and "in fact assessing her exactly the 40 years the State requested in both its opening and closing argument, we must conclude that the jury did not consider any lesser sentence as a result."

The Court of Appeals Sixth Appellate District of Texas at Texarkana says the erroneous jury instruction resulted in egregious harm, therefore they will reverse the trial court's judgment and remand this case for a new trial on punishment.

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