Appeal denied; Tyler man to be put to death for 2012 Halloween murder

Appeal denied; Tyler man to be put to death for 2012 Halloween murder

TYLER, TEXAS (KLTV) - The death sentence imposed against convicted murderer James Calvert will stand, according to a ruling by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Calvert’s 29-point appeal was found to be “without merit,” justices wrote in a 158-page opinion delivered Wednesday.

The use of a shock cuff during this time is one of Calvert’s main points of appeal, the use of which he argued violated his Constitutional rights, specifically “substantive and procedural due process.”

Appeals justices disagree with Calvert that the incidents influenced the trial, writing unanimously that, “… the activation was not in front of the jury and it only momentarily incapacitated the Appellant.”

James Calvert represented himself in court. (Source: KLTV Staff/File)
James Calvert represented himself in court. (Source: KLTV Staff/File)

The device was activated twice on Calvert, records show - once, a year before the jury was picked, and a second time during the trial after the jury had been dismissed for the day.

A 2018 ruling regarding shock cuff use by The Texas Eighth Court of Appeals in El Paso is addressed in a footnote of the Calvert ruling. In that opinion, justices said judges are not allowed to use the shock belt to penalize defendants for not answering questions or to enforce rules of decorum in the courtroom.

“Unlike in Morris, the trial judge in this case did not instruct deputies to shock the defendant; rather, the deputies activated the shock cuff on their own volition after appellant disobeyed instruction.”

James Calvert is accused of killing his ex-wife and kidnapping their son. (Source: KLTV staff)
James Calvert is accused of killing his ex-wife and kidnapping their son. (Source: KLTV staff)

Justices write in the opinion there are two ways in which a shock cuff activation can influence a trial: A negative affect on jurors impartiality and presumption of innocence, or by causing a negative effect on the defendant’s ability to confer with counsel and otherwise participate in his defense.

Neither of those things happened in Calvert’s case, the opinion states.

“Absent evidence in the record that jurors heard Appellant scream, we will not speculate they did.”

The opinion comes four years after Calvert was convicted and sentenced to death for fatally shooting his ex-wife, Jelena Sriraman, six times at her Tyler home in front of their child in October 2012. Calvert then abducted the child and fled to Louisiana, where he was arrested in West Monroe following a high-speed chase.

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