Use of Myspace Page to Convict Killer Affirmed


     DALLAS (CN) – A Texas appellate court unanimously affirmed the murder conviction of a Dallas man, agreeing with the trial court decision to allow his Myspace social network profile as evidence.
     On Wednesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the conviction of Ronnie Tienda Jr. regarding the shooting death of David Valadez, 23, of Grand Prairie, on a freeway in 2007. Tienda was sentenced to 35 years in state prison.
     Although cartridge casings consistent with several firearms were found at the scene of the crime, the bullet recovered from Valdez’ body could not be matched. No firearms were recovered.
     In his opinion, Judge Tom Price writes that the trial court was right to allow the profile as circumstantial evidence to show Tienda was involved in the slaying, that “the internal content of the MySpace postings – photographs, comments, and music – was sufficient circumstantial evidence to establish a prima facie case such that a reasonable juror could have found that they were created and maintained by the appellant.”
     The opinion mentions entries such as “You aint BLASTIN You aint Lastin” and “I live to stay fresh!! I kill to stay rich!!.” Under the heading “RIP David Valadez” was a link to a song that was played by Valadez’s cousin at Valadez’s funeral. Another music link posted was a song titled “I Still Kill.”
     “The instant messages exchanged between the account holder and other unidentified MySpace users included specific references to other passengers present during the shooting, circumstances surrounding the shooting, and details about the state’s investigation following the shooting,” Price writes. “The author of the messages made specific threats to those who had been ‘snitchin’ and ‘dont run shit but they mouth,’ assigning blame to others for being the ‘only reason im on lock down and have this shit on my back.'”
     The court says the author also boasted to another user that “WUT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND” and “U KNO HOW WE DO, WE DON’T CHASE EM WE REPLACE EM,” saying that “EVERYONE WUZ BUSTIN AND THEY ONLY TOLD ON ME.”
     Several messages also complained about the author’s electronic monitor, which was a condition of the appellant’s house arrest while awaiting trial.
     Defense attorney Leslie McFarlane told the Associated Pressshe was not sure where the case could go now.
     “I think it’s fair to say it’s troubling,” she said.

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