ERICK DAVILA. Mr. Davila was ordered put to death after being convicted in the 2008 slayings in Fort Worth of a girl and her grandmother who were shot when he opened fire at a rival gang member whose home was the scene of a child's birthday party. Mr. Davila's appeal was heard by the US Supreme Court. His attorneys objected to the trial judge's instructions to the jury and argued that Mr. Davila did not intentionally kill the victims.
Mr. Davila's trial attorney objected to the judge's instruction to the jury regarding intent. The judge instructed the jury they could convict Mr. Davila if the only difference between what happened and what was intended was that a different person was hurt. The judge should have instructed the jury that the state needed to prove Mr. Davila intended to kill more than one person in order for the jury to convict for capital murder.
On direct appeal, Mr. Davila's appellate lawyer failed to raise the issue of the jury instruction. Mr. Davila argued that his appellate attorney was ineffective. The US Supreme Court, in a 5-4 vote, held that since there is no constitutional right to an attorney for post-conviction relief, Mr. Davila's claim of ineffective assistance was not sufficient "excuse a procedural default."