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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Authorities arrested Sherman Fields on federal firearms charges in September 2001. He was held in federal custody at the McClennan County Detention Center in Waco. In November 2001, Fields bribed a correctional officer, paying him $5,000 in exchange for a key to the detention center’s fire escape door. Using the key, Fields escaped. After fleeing federal custody, Fields met up with a friend. Through this friend, Fields obtained a car and a .32 caliber revolver. That evening, Fields visited his ex-girlfriend Suncerey Coleman at Hillcrest Hospital in Waco, where she was attending to her newborn baby. Fields was angry with Coleman for seeing other men. After Fields and Coleman conversed for some time, Fields convinced her to leave the hospital with him. They drove to a small town just outside of Waco, where Fields shot Coleman twice in the head. Several days later, Fields approached Tammy Edwards, a Hillcrest Hospital employee, while Edwards was exiting her car. Brandishing a handgun and grabbing her by the throat, Fields demanded that Edwards get back in the car. Although Edwards was able to struggle free, Fields managed to wrestle away her car keys. Fields drove away in Edwards’ car. Coleman’s body was found on Nov. 21, 2001, more than two weeks after her death. Three days later, police rearrested Fields. The government charged Fields by a seven-count indictment. At trial, Fields asked to represent himself. The district court advised against such a course of action. After Fields insisted, the court instructed his two previously appointed attorneys to act as standby counsel. Following several days of evidence, the jury convicted Fields on all counts. The government sought a death sentence for the murder pursuant to 18 U.S.C. �924(j)(1). At his separate trial on sentencing, a court-appointed attorney represented Fields. Fields objected on confrontation clause grounds to the admission of certain out-of-court statements to establish that he committed prior violent crimes. After hearing additional evidence, the jury recommended the death penalty. Following this recommendation, the court sentenced Fields to death. Fields appealed, challenging his convictions and his death sentence. HOLDING:Affirmed. Fields, the court stated, maintained that the district court erred by admitting testimonial hearsay at his capital sentencing proceeding in violation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2004 opinion Crawford v. Washington. Fields challenged, on the basis of the confrontation clause, the introduction at sentencing of: statements made about him by his mother and juvenile probation officers in various records introduced into evidence by a Juvenile Probation Department official; statements made about him by corrections officers in prison records introduced into evidence by state prison officials; statements made by officers in police reports introduced into evidence by someone other than the officer who had made the report; a detective’s description, based on the investigating officer’s report, of the drive-by shooting that led to Fields’ 1992 conviction of attempted murder; and statements made by witnesses to police officers while the officers were investigating various past crimes in which Fields may have been involved but for which he was never charged. The hearsay statements challenged by Fields, the court stated, were relevant only to the jury’s selection of an appropriate punishment from within an authorized range and not to the establishment of Fields’ eligibility for the death penalty. After reviewing the applicable case law and considering the particular importance of “individualized sentencing” in capital cases, the court concluded that the confrontation clause did not operate to bar the admission of testimony “relevant only to a capital sentencing authority’s selection decision.” Thus, the court majority held that the district court did not err in admitting the challenged statements. The court went on to reject Fields’ 19 other claims of error. OPINION:Benavides, J., wrote the opinion, except for Part II.A.1, which concerned Fields’ confrontation clause challenge, which Smith, J., authored; King, Smith, and Benavides, J.J. DISSENT:Benavides, J., dissented from Part II.A.1. “Sherman Lamont Fields was sentenced to death based on adverse testimony he never had an opportunity to confront. That is all I need to know to find that the Confrontation Clause has been offended. The majority places undue emphasis on the artificial distinction between eligibility and selection factors at capital sentencing, and completely neglects to consider recent developments in the Sixth Amendment as to confrontation and sentencing. . . . “I would find that the Confrontation Clause applies to capital sentencing as it is structured under the FDPA and remand this case for resentencing.”

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