A judge considering convicted murderer Darlene Gentry’s appeal has ruled that her request for a new trial should be denied.
Judge Bert Richardson’s ruling comes seven years after the Court of Criminal Appeals ordered a hearing to ferret out more information based on allegations in Darlene Gentry’s application for writ of habeas corpus.
Darlene Gentry, now 42, is serving 60 years in prison after her murder conviction in the November 2005 shooting death of her husband, Keith Gentry, the father of her three sons.
Trial testimony showed Darlene Gentry shot her sleeping husband in the head while their three sons were asleep down the hall and then staged their Robinson home to try to make it appear an intruder broke in and shot Keith Gentry.
In a 40-page order, Richardson, who was elected to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals three years ago, recommended that any relief Darlene Gentry was seeking in her writ application, including a new trial, be denied.
His recommendation will now be forwarded to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which ordered the hearings seven years ago.
“We are glad this part of it is over,” said Keith Gentry’s father, Waymon Gentry. “At least it came to a conclusion on this part, but I know there is probably more coming. But at least this part of it is over.”
Waymon Gentry and his wife are caring for their grandsons, who are now 17, 14 and 13. A court order prohibits Darlene Gentry from having any contact with her sons.
Unless she wins a new trial, Darlene Gentry must serve 30 years in prison before she can seek parole.
Her direct appeals were rejected by Waco’s 10th Court of Appeals and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
An application for writ of habeas corpus alleges a defendant is being held illegally because of constitutional violations. Darlene Gentry alleged her trial attorneys were ineffective and that prosecutors elicited perjured testimony and withheld favorable evidence.
One of Darlene Gentry’s writ attorneys, Stephanie Stevens, a law professor at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, did not return a phone message Monday.
Former longtime prosecutor Crawford Long, who prosecuted Gentry’s case with former prosecutor Melanie Walker, said he is pleased with Richardson’s ruling.
“We believe that she had a perfectly fair trial,” Long said. “The evidence showed she was guilty, and we agree that the writ should have been denied.”
In her original appeal to the Waco-based intermediate appellate court, Gentry argued she deserved a new trial because her rights were violated when an incriminating videotape was produced and introduced at her trial.
The video, secretly videotaped by Texas Rangers, showed Gentry wading knee-deep in a pond near Axtell in a search for the murder weapon she reportedly threw there.
Gentry was shown on the tape searching the pond, not knowing Rangers already had recovered the murder weapon, a .22-caliber revolver given to Keith Gentry by his father.
She claimed in her writ application that her attorneys prevented her from testifying, so the jury never got to hear her explanation for her mid-winter wading expedition.
The video was made after a series of phone calls between Darlene Gentry and an acquaintance about her request to buy land on which the pond sits. The acquaintance became suspicious of Gentry’s motives and called police.
After finding the gun, Rangers had the man call Darlene Gentry and tell her he was going to drain the pond.
She eventually came to the pond and was caught on video probing the muddy bottom in the exact spot where the gun was found.