Kody Lott denied new trial, conviction upheld

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Lauren Landavazo's parents make statement after learning appeal is denied

UPDATE: Nov. 8, 2019, 12:12 p.m.: Convicted murderer Kody Lott’s request for a new trial has been denied, according to Wichita County District Attorney John Gillespie. The parents of Lauren Landavazo, Bianka and Vern Landavazo, gave a statement to KFDX after learning that Lott’s appeal had been denied. The statement in full is listed below.

“Since September 2, 2016, Bianka and I, along with our family, friends, and our community, have struggled to cope with the devastation of that day. 

“Losing a child is every parent’s worst nightmare, one you think you can never survive, and Bianka and I both felt certain that we would soon join our beloved daughter Lauren in her Heavenly home when our worst fear came true that day.

“What we did not count on was the unbelievable outpouring of support from this amazing community, and how that support would comfort us and give us strength to cope with our loss, and enable us to carry on.

“Very early on in the process of getting justice for Lauren we met with then-District Attorney Maureen Shelton, who almost immediately set our minds at ease with her calm, yet determined demeanor.  It was obvious from that first meeting that Maureen was not only an extremely competent DA, but more importantly, we understood how deeply our daughter’s death touched Maureen, who herself is a mother to a beautiful daughter.  We knew without a doubt we had found our champion in our quest for justice for Lauren.

Maureen went out of her way to keep us informed of what to expect throughout the long, painful process we were about to face, and having her wisdom and guidance to lean on did more to help us through those dark days than we will ever be able to express.  While we were still struggling to cope with the senselessness of Lauren’s loss, we knew that with Maureen leading the fight, that we would have justice for Lauren.  It’s hard to put into words how much it means to a grieving family to not have to worry about the fight for justice, to just know you have someone who is passionate about fighting for justice for you.

“Sitting through the very painful trial, when it finally did happen, was again made bearable with the knowledge of who we had fighting for us.  Maureen and her team, and there were many in the DA’s office who were just as touched by Lauren’s story and just as committed to justice as Maureen was, epitomized what it means to be compassionate, professional, dedicated, and competent.  While we still had to try to deal with many things, one thing we never worried about was not getting justice for our daughter.

“So when we were told by current DA John Gillespie about the appeals process and how he felt very confident in the conviction being upheld, we had to admit that we already knew that we had sat through the trial and had a front-row seat to watch Maureen and Ron Poole as they fought for justice for Lauren.  And we will never forget the many witnesses called to testify about that nightmarish day and how brave they were in recalling the horrors, especially the children, and most especially Makayla Smith.

“It’s hard to over-emphasize the importance of every single person involved in our case and how something as important as a murder trial can be upended with just the slightest mistake on one person’s part. 

“What shone through loud and clear is how blessed we were as a community to be served by the wonderful men and women who make up our police department and DA’s office.  Without their dedication to serving this community, we would not have our justice and we would like to thank them all from the bottom of our heart.

—Vern and Bianka Landavazo

WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — Convicted murderer Kody Lott’s request for a new trial has been denied, according to Wichita County District Attorney John Gillespie.

In October 2018, Lott’s attorney filed a motion for a new trial. The court announced Friday that they will uphold the guilty verdict. Lott can still ask the Court of Criminal Appeals to review the conviction again in the future.

Lott was found guilty by a jury in Tarrant County in September 2018 after a very short deliberation. In an even shorter time period, the next day the jury gave Lott life in prison for the murder of McNiel student Lauren Landavazo.

He was also given 20-years for the shooting of her friend Makayla Smith.

The motion filed by Lott’s attorney said the verdict and sentence were contrary to the law and evidence and that the evidence was insufficient to justify the verdict and sentence. The defense maintained the verdicts were obtained using inadmissible evidence.

During the trial, Lott’s attorneys tried to have key evidence like the gun Lott used and the vehicle he was in, ruled inadmissible and said they were seized without due process. 

At that time, Judge Bob Brotherton denied the motions ruling all evidence was obtained legally and Lott was advised of his rights by police interrogators. Defense attorneys also failed in their effort to get a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

Wichita County District Attorney John Gillespie said he is confident the evidence against Lott ensures he will stay behind bars.

“I am very confident in the evidence that was presented at trial that the Wichita Falls Police Department developed in the case and the Fort Worth Court of Appeals was as well,” Gillespie said. “So, they turned down his appeal. They found that the evidence was properly admitted and they denied his appeal.”

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