SAN ANGELO, TX — 51st District Attorney Allison Palmer has been disqualified from prosecuting the Robert Lee murder trial of Jasmine Moreno by a visiting judge.
Judge Mike Freeman from Waco held a hearing in Tom Green County on a motion to disqualify Palmer filed by defense attorney Frank Sellers last Friday, Aug. 23.
According to court documents, Freeman said, "The process we went through today is a difficult process for everybody. As a district attorney, or any prosecutor, you're to suggest to do everything to see that it's done fairly. As a judge, we must not let our personal feelings enter into a matter, but we must follow what the law says. And sometimes that law is not so clear, but sometimes it becomes clearer during the process."
Judge Freeman continued, "Based upon the information that is in the Motion to Disqualify Allison Palmer, and based upon the testimony that I heard today, I am going to rule that Ms. Palmer should be disqualified from the presentation of this case. I think the attempts that you tried to make, Ms. Palmer, late in the game were to be commended; however, I can't help but feel that due process does require that you be removed from the case." Freeman concluded, "That's the ruling of the court..."
Moreno's defense attorney Frank Sellers complained that Palmer was directing and conducting duties for the prosecution when Sellers' intention was to call Palmer as a material witness during the trial. Palmer, Sellers pointed out, had counseled, if informally, Moreno to press charges against her husband in an earlier incident when Cisco was accused of domestic violence against his wife. Palmer warned Moreno then that if she didn't press charges, something more ominous may happen in the future. Sellers filed the motion to remove Palmer from the prosecution team in July.
Palmer was right. Something worse did happen: a murder case.
Jasmine Moreno is charged with murder in the shooting death of her husband, Cisco Moreno.
Court documents state, “Coke County Deputy Terry Crenshaw responded to the residence and discovered the body of Cisco Ray Moreno in the kitchen of the residence. In his initial investigation at the scene, Deputy Crenshaw contacted Jasmine Moreno, the defendant, who had advised him that she had used a handgun and shot her husband.”
Two individuals were in the residence when the shooting occurred but neither were in the kitchen where the murder took place. The witnesses stated that they saw Jasmine Moreno “in the kitchen pointing a firearm at the body of Cisco Moreno immediately following the sound of gunshots from the kitchen.”
Jasmine later that day signed a “written confession detailing the manner in which she shot Cisco Moreno more than once in the kitchen of the residence utilizing a single action revolver.” The document stated Jasmine “recalled having to cock the hammer of the pistol back for each successive shot.”
An autopsy was conducted at the Southwest Forensic Institute in Lubbock. The cause of death was identified as multiple gunshot wounds, and the manner of death appeared to be homicide.
Jasmine Moreno is now out on a $50,000 bond. Moreno was charged with first degree felony murder which is punishable by five to 99 years or life in prison and a $10,000.
Sellers and Palmer have previously sparred during the appeal of the conviction of Justin Riordan, a Miles man who Palmer won conviction for sexual assault of a child. Sellers took over Riordan's case when it went to the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals. Riordan lost that appeal.
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