A sharply divided Texas Court of Criminal Appeals threw out the death sentence Wednesday of a Beaumont woman convicted of killing her newborn son. The 5-4 ruling by the state's highest criminal court means that Kenisha Berry, 29, will serve a life prison term. The baby's body was found bound with duct tape in a Jefferson County trash bin. He remained unidentified for five years until Berry was identified as the mother of a newborn girl who was found alive but abandoned and covered with fire ants in a ditch in June 2003. A DNA test later showed that Berry was also the baby boy's mother.
A jury in Beaumont convicted her of capital murder and sentenced her to death.
The appeals court upheld her conviction but ruled that Jefferson County prosecutors misstated the special issue presented to jurors regarding Berry's likelihood of being a future danger to society.
In a Tarrant County case, the appeals court upheld the conviction and sentence of Sheldon Ward, 27, condemned for killing Nyanuer "Mary" Pal five years ago in Fort Worth. Ward's attorneys had raised 13 points of error from his trial.