FORT WORTH (KFDX/KJTL) — The appeals continue in the case of Justin Love for his role in the 2015 murder of Domanic Thrasher.
After his initial appeal for his second conviction and sentence of life in prison was denied by Judge Bob Brotherton in August 2022, the case now heads back to the Texas state appeals court that overturned his first conviction.
Love’s lengthened prison sentence was one of the grounds upon which his defense attorney built their argument when they appealed his second conviction — that the defendant should not face a harsher sentence than his first one.
Though the defense holds to the claim that the longer sentence violates Love’s constitutional rights, Wichita County Assistant District Attorney Kyle Lessor said Love’s misconduct between the two murder trials means those limitations don’t apply to him.
After Judge Brotherton denied Love’s appeal, Love filed a notice of appeal of that ruling to the Second Court of Appeals in Fort Worth, the same court that granted the appeal of his first conviction in December 2018.
In addition to their argument regarding Love’s sentence, the defense alleges the jury that found him guilty in June was misguided by the charge the State gave them before they came to a verdict, and that structural errors in that charge affected the framework of the trial, and the law was not applied to the facts.
Lessor countered, stating common sense would have allowed the jury to interpret the charge correctly, and that there’s no way the jury was misled.
The defense also alleges that prosecutors improperly used testimony from a cellmate of the third defendant, Whitney O’Brien, who pled to a lesser charge of manslaughter for her involvement in Thrasher’s murder.
After Judge Brotherton rejected those arguments in the initial appeal hearing, the appeal returns to the Second Court of Appeals.
Currently, Love is serving his sentence at the Byrd Unit in Huntsville, Texas, and with credit for the time served since his arrest, he could become eligible for parole in 2046.