The state of Texas has asked for another 30 days to obtain better quality exhibits for a federal judge weighing a petition filed by a convicted murderer who has maintained his innocence since his 2006 arrest.
Federal magistrate Judge Peter E. Ormsby set a Monday deadline back on May 29 ordering the state to provide him with better quality and missing exhibits in the case of Douglas Tyrone Armstrong, who is serving life in prison for the April 21, 2006, murder of Rafael Castelan in Donna.
Armstrong has argued in a federal writ of habeas corpus that blood spatter forensic evidence proves his story that he found Castelan bleeding and near death on the street when he tried to help the man to the police station.
However, when a couple in a van drove toward him to intervene Armstrong says he ran because he was scared he would be arrested because of his criminal history. Armstrong has also questioned the accuracy of what those witnesses told police, as well as alleging in the petition that the Donna Police Department planted evidence used to convict him.
The state, however, disputes those assertions and says Armstrong slashed Castelan’s throat in cold blood and ran from police, even trying to switch out his bloody clothes at a nearby bar. The state also points to Castelan’s bloody Medicaid card that a jailer found on Armstrong during his booking — a fact his appellate attorneys challenge, alleging dried blood on the document that wasn’t smeared on the card shows it was planted on Armstrong.
A voluminous amount of photographic evidence in the case shows items like the Medicaid card and the box-cutter knife, which was found three days after the murder despite extensive searches, authorities say was used in in the murder.
The Monitor has reviewed all of the evidence filed in the record and the photos included are hardly discernible. All of the photos are high in black-and-white contrast.
The delay the state has in locating the original files is Hidalgo County officials aren’t completely sure where the evidence is and need more time to locate the case file.
“The undersigned attorney has been in contact with Hidalgo County, Texas, who are in the process of locating the exhibits, which were either in storage or sent to the Court of Criminal Appeals,” the motion stated. “Officials at Hidalgo County indicated that they needed more time to locate and obtain the records.”
The motion asks for a July 29 deadline to provide Ormsby the exhibits.
On Friday, Ormsby granted the unnopposed motion.
Armstrong’s attorneys also provided the judge on Friday with a flash drive containing several exhibits he had asked for, court records indicate.