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Texas death row inmate asks Supreme Court for new trial citing 'junk science'

Oct. 6 (UPI) -- A death row inmate in Texas appealed his case to the Supreme Court on Tuesday, saying his conviction using evidence gleaned through hypnosis was based on "junk science."

Charles Don Flores, 40, was sentenced to death in 1999 for the slaying of Elizabeth "Betty" Black during a home invasion in Farmers Branch, Texas, in 1998.

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Prosecutors said Richard Lynn Childs killed Black, but convicted Flores under the state's "law of parties," which targets accomplices. Childs pleaded guilty to the slaying in exchange for 35 years in prison, and was released on parole in 2016.

Flores' lawyers say there was no evidence tying their client to the murder, but an eyewitness told police they saw two men leaving a vehicle and going into Black's home.

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The witness initially described the accomplice as a thin white man with long hair, but during a later interview under hypnosis described someone who looked like Flores -- a heavyset Latino man with long hair.

Flores' appeal to the high court comes five months after the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied him a new trial under the state's "junk science law."

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"The fundamental unfairness of a conviction and death sentence that hinges on hypnotically induced testimony merits the consideration of our nation's highest court, particularly now that a majority of U.S. jurisdictions have deemed it inadmissible in criminal trials," defense attorney Gretchen Sween said Tuesday.

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"There is no legitimate scientific basis for 'investigative hypnosis' to be used, under any circumstances, to recover memories for use in criminal court, particularly of observations that were nebulous to begin with."

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