Man on death row for 1984 SMU slaying loses appeal

Donald Bess

Credit: Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Donald Bess is on Texas Death Row for the 1984 rape and murder of an SMU student.

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Associated Press

Posted on March 6, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Updated Wednesday, Mar 6 at 5:20 PM

HOUSTON (AP) — The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has upheld the death sentence of a 64-year-old man convicted of the 1984 rape-slaying of a Southern Methodist University student at her off-campus condo.

The state's highest criminal court, ruling Wednesday in the case of Donald Bess, rejected 52 claims of error at his 2010 trial, including challenges to jury selection and instructions, expert testimony and sufficiency of the evidence.

Bess already was serving life in prison for a 1985 Harris County rape when DNA testing in 2008 matched him to the long-unsolved murder of Angela Samota. Samota's sorority sisters from SMU had asked police to re-examine her death.

The DNA technology wasn't available at the time of her slaying.

Bess does not have an execution date and still can appeal to federal courts.

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