In Bryan, John Ray Falk Jr’s capital murder trial has been delayed until Friday following the state’s granting relief in the trial proceedings by the 10th Court of Appeals. Falk is accused of being an accomplice of inmate Jerry Duane Martin in causing the death of TDCJ correctional officer Susan Canfield during a 2007 prison escape.
A petition for writ of mandamus regarding the correct legal application of the trial court’s charge concerning Falk being responsible under the Texas Law of Parties for the death of officer Canfield has been filed by Walker County District Attorney David Weeks and Assistant Attorney General Jane Starnes. This kind of writ is an order from a higher court requiring a lower court to perform or refrain from taking action on a legal issue.
During the escape, inmate Jerry Duane Martin stole a truck from the City of Huntsville Service Center and hit a horse officer Canfield was riding–resulting in her death. Trial testimony has shown that Falk exchanged gunfire with the officer during the escape and also tried to take the officer’s rifle shortly before the truck hit her horse. Forensic examination also shows a match with a bullet removed from the body of the horse to the gun Falk allegedly fired at officer Canfield.
Falk’s attorney says that Falk did not know that Martin, who was driving the truck that killed Canfield, had intentions of killing her and that the collision could have have been an accident. The defense also says Falk had completed his escape, so he wasn’t committing a felony at the time Canfield was murdered.
The 10th Court of Criminal Appeals will hear oral arguments regarding the writ of mandamus at Blinn College in Bryan at two this afternoon.