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Werner v. State

711 S.W.2d 639 (1986)

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Werner v. State

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

711 S.W.2d 639 (1986)

Facts

In 1982, Peter Werner (defendant) watched Tarbell Griffin Travis crash a car into Werner’s friend’s empty, parked car and speed away. Werner found Travis nearby and confronted Travis while Werner held a gun. Travis dared Werner to shoot him, and Werner shot and killed Travis. Before trial, Werner moved to present an expert witness, psychiatrist Dr. Rudolph Roden, who would have testified that Werner showed some of the characteristics of an individual who has Holocaust syndrome (HS), a syndrome associated with children of survivors of Nazi concentration camps. Werner’s father and grandmother survived Nazi concentration camps; some of Werner’s other family members died in concentration camps. Roden would have testified that although Werner was not explicitly thinking of the Holocaust at the time Werner shot Travis, Werner acted with the state of mind of self-defense because Werner came from a family that had failed to defend itself. The trial court excluded Roden’s expert testimony. At trial, Werner testified that Werner was attempting to hold Travis until police arrived and had shot Travis in self-defense. The trial court instructed the jury about self-defense. The jury convicted Werner of murder and assessed a punishment of 10 years’ incarceration. Werner appealed, arguing in relevant part that the trial court had erred by refusing to omit Roden’s expert testimony. The appellate court affirmed Werner’s conviction, finding that Roden’s testimony was not relevant. Werner appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which reviewed Werner’s appeal en banc.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Onion, J.)

Dissent (Teague, J.)

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