Attorney for Angelina County capital murder suspect challenging - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Attorney for Angelina County capital murder suspect challenging legality of her imprisonment

Source: KTRE staff Source: KTRE staff
Source: KTRE staff Source: KTRE staff
Source: KTRE staff Source: KTRE staff
Source: KTRE staff Source: KTRE staff
Billie Jean Cuttler (Source: Angelina County Sheriff's Office) Billie Jean Cuttler (Source: Angelina County Sheriff's Office)

The defense attorney for a Louisiana woman who has been charged with capital murder in the 2015 drowning death of her nephew plans to file a writ of Habeas corpus challenging the legality of her imprisonment.

Billie Jean Cuttler appeared in Judge Paul White’s 159th Judicial District Court Wednesday for a motion hearing. The motion hearing came less than a month after an Angelina County jury found that she is not mentally competent to stand trial for the capital murder charge.

Al Charanza, Cuttler’s defense attorney, said the state cannot prove that his client committed a crime, so she should be released from jail. He added that the state can’t prove that Cuttler committed a crime because she was ruled incompetent to stand trial.

“I asked for continuance today because I believe in we’ll be filing a written request with the court that the law is unconstitutional as it will apply to Billy Jean Cuttler.” Charanza said. 

As the hearing began defense attorney Albert Charanza moved to file habeas corpus with the court.

Cuttler was expected to be sentenced Wednesday to a mental health center after her bond was revoked.

Due to Cuttler’s intellectual disability she is never expected to regain competence and therefore cannot be found guilty by the court.

“Billy Jean Cuttler’s potentially facing the entire remainder of her life mental health facility or supervised by mental health authorities without ever being found guilty of a crime or even any evidence brought in court to say she’s even guilty.” Charanza said. 

The concern is that since Cuttler can’t stand trial that she shouldn’t be sentenced the rest of her life for a crime that she may or may not be guilty of.

“It’s my position that Billy Jean Cuttler should not have to serve the remainder of her life under some type of supervision or some type of mental health facility because she’s intellectually disabled, when she maybe, could be and probably an innocent person.” Charanza said.    

Charanza also believes that there is a higher risk of wrongful prosecution when it comes to cases such as Cuttler’s.

“I’ll be filing a written request with the court to find that the laws of the state of Texas for civil commitment as to criminal cases for intellectually disabled persons is unconstitutional.” Charanza said. 

Back in May, Cuttler’s defense team requested that her bail amount be lowered. At the time, White said he would not discuss lowering her bail until after the second mental health evaluation.

Previously, the court said it may consider revoking the statements Cuttler made to the Angelina County Sheriff’s Office because of her intellectual disabilities, depending on how she did on the competency evaluation.

Cuttler and Bobby Woods Jr. are both facing capital murder charges for the death of Mason Cuttler. Back in March, April Perez, the prosecutor on the case, said that Cuttler will not be facing the death penalty. If she is found competent to stand trial and is found guilty, she will have to serve life in prison without parole.

According to the arrest affidavit for Woods, ACSO Lt. Brett Maisel and Texas Ranger Steven Rayburn interviewed Woods, who said he took Mason to the pond, pushed him into the water, and watched him as he began to drown. He allegedly turned his back to him, making no attempt to rescue him, despite Mason's cries for help.

The affidavit states Woods said he wanted Mason to die because his girlfriend was pregnant and he wanted to make room in the home for his unborn child.

However, Charanza, told East Texas News she was never pregnant.

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