The Court of Criminal Appeals denied a request for a new trial for Darlene Gentry, ruling Wednesday that her murder conviction in the 2005 shooting death of her husband will stand.
The court also denied Gentry’s application for a writ of habeas corpus Wednesday. Judge Bert Richardson recommended in July that the court deny Darlene Gentry’s request, and the court agreed.
Darlene Gentry, who turned 43 this month, is serving 60 years in prison after she was convicted in 2007 in the murder of Keith Gentry, her husband and father of her three sons. She will be eligible to seek parole after serving 30 years.
“That’s a good Thanksgiving gift for us, but not for her,” Keith Gentry’s father, Waymon Gentry, said of the Court of Criminal Appeals decision.
Waymon Gentry and his wife are caring for the now teenage sons of Darlene and Keith Gentry. A court order prohibits Darlene Gentry from having any contact with her sons.
She was convicted of shooting her husband in the head while he slept in their Robinson home. Trial testimony showed that after she shot him, Darlene Gentry tried to stage the scene to make it appear that he was shot by an intruder before she called 911, saying she was asleep down the hall with one of her sons who was not feeling well.
In her original appeal to the Waco-based intermediate appellate court, Darlene Gentry argued she deserved a new trial because her rights were violated when an incriminating video was produced and introduced at her trial.
The video, secretly recorded by Texas Rangers in January 2006, showed Darlene Gentry wading knee-deep in a pond near Axtell in a search for the murder weapon she threw there. Gentry was seen searching the pond, but the Rangers had already retrieved the murder weapon, a .22-caliber revolver given to Keith Gentry by his father.
The tape was made after a series of phone calls between Darlene Gentry and an acquaintance, Robert Pavelka.
The calls started shortly after the murder, when Darlene Gentry voiced interest in building a home on property Pavelka owned. When she first looked at the site, she wanted to know if a pond on it would be included, saying her husband had always wanted a place to fish with their three young sons, Pavelka testified at trial.
Darlene Gentry later told Pavelka she wanted the pond filled in, raising his suspicions. Pavelka called a friend in law enforcement. The friend put him in touch with the Rangers, who had a dive team search the pond.
After finding the weapon, the Rangers had Pavelka tell Darlene Gentry he was going to drain the pond. When she eventually came and searched the spot where the gun was found, the Rangers’ camera was ready.