GATESVILLE, Texas (AP) — Jerry Hartfield was still a young man when an uncle visited him in prison to tell him his murder conviction had been overturned and he would get a new trial.
He never did.
Texas' highest criminal court in 1983 confirmed its 1980 ruling overturning Hartfield's murder conviction in the 1976 slaying of a Bay City bus station worker. Eleven days later, then-Gov. Mark White commuted Hartfield's death sentence to life in prison.
Now 56, Hartfield is challenging his continued detention.
A federal judge recently ruled that Hartfield deserves a new trial or to go free because there was no sentence to commute once his conviction was overturned.
The state is appealing. It argues that Hartfield missed a one-year window in which to challenge White's commutation.