WEATHERFORD, Texas (AP) — A North Texas judge declined Wednesday to dismiss a capital murder charge against a 17-year-old accused of killing his mother and younger sister, but either of the possible punishments under state law would be at odds with a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Attorneys for Jacob Ryan Evans, a tall, lanky teen who walked into the courtroom unshackled, asked at a Wednesday hearing that his capital murder charges be dropped.
A U.S. Supreme Court ruling from June barred mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles convicted of murder and a previous ruling barred juveniles from being executed, the only two punishment options for capital murder cases in Texas. All defendants convicted of capital murder in Texas automatically get life without parole if jurors opt against execution or if prosecutors didn't seek the death penalty.
Parker County prosecutors, who opposed changing Evans' case to lesser charges of murder, told the judge that proposed state legislation would create a life sentence with the possibility of parole for capital murder convicts under age 18. Prosecutors said if that bill passes, it would fix the problem, and the Supreme Court rulings might never apply because Evans' trial date has not been set.
Evans has been jailed since his October arrest at his upscale home in Aledo, about 20 miles west of Fort Worth. The teen called 911 and told the operator in a calm, monotone voice that he had just shot his mother and sister multiple times, according to the 25-minute call released by the Parker County Sheriff's Office. His father and other siblings were not home at the time, authorities said.
In the recording, he can be heard saying that he "wasn't even really angry with them. It just kind of happened. I've been kind of planning on killing for a while now." He adds that he could have shot "pretty much anybody."
Evans, who turns 18 in May, told the Parker County 911 operator that his mother and sister were rude, but he also said his 15-year-old sister, Mallory, had a sweet side. He also says he felt they were suffocating him and adds, "Obviously, you know, I'm pretty — I guess — evil."
The judge Wednesday set Evans' bail at $750,000, denying defense attorneys' request to release him. Lead defense attorney Larry Moore noted that bail would have been lower if Evans was charged with murder instead of capital murder.