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Robert Lynn PRUETT





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Retaliation over a disciplinary issue
Number of victims: 2
Date of murders: 1995 / 1999
Date of birth: September 18, 1979
Victims profile: One man / Daniel Nagle, 37 (prison guard)
Method of murder: ??? / Stabbing with homemade knife
Location: Bee County, Texas, USA
Status: Sentenced to death on April 30, 2002


TDCJ Number

Date of Birth

Pruett, Robert Lynn



Date Received

Age (when Received)

Education Level




Date of Offense

Age (at the Offense)







Hair Color






Eye Color

5 ft 11 in



Native County

Native State

Prior Occupation




Prior Prison Record

Was serving a life sentence from Harris County for one count of murder with a deadly weapon when he committed this offense.

Summary of incident

On December 17, 1999, Pruett physically assaulted a male correctional officer at the McConnell Unit in Bee County, resulting in the death of the correctional officer.



Race and Gender of Victim

white male


Inmate indicted in Nagle murder

April 2000

BEEVILLE — A Bee County grand jury on March 21 indicted inmate Robert Lynn Pruett on two counts of capital murder in the Dec. 17 stabbing death of Officer Daniel Nagle at the McConnell Unit near Beeville.

Pruett, 20, is serving a life sentence for a 1995 Harris County murder.

One count of the indictment charges him with capital murder of a prison guard; the other charges him with capital murder while incarcerated for murder.

Nagle, 37, was found in a pool of blood near a multipurpose room around 3:45 p.m.

An 8-inch steel shank was found nearby.

Pruett apparently had planned the attack on Nagle, according to TDCJ.

“We believe this is an isolated case whereby Pruett had planned the assault on Officer Nagle,” spokesman Larry Todd told the Huntsville Item.

He said the attack may have been retaliation over a disciplinary issue.

Todd told the newspaper the investigation continues and additional information could be presented to the grand jury.

The case will be prosecuted by 156th Judicial District Attorney George Morill III, assisted by special prosecutors Herbert Hancock and Alfred Hernandez.


In the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas

No. 74,370

Robert Lynn Pruett, Appellant
State of Texas

On direct appeal from Bee County

PRICE, J., delivered the opinion for a unanimous Court.


A Bee County Jury convicted the appellant, Robert Lynn Pruett, of killing Correction Officer Daniel Nagle while the appellant was incarcerated at McConnell prison unit in Beeville, Texas. (1) Pursuant to the jury's answers to the special issues set forth in Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 37.071, §§ 2(b) and 2(e), the trial judge sentenced the appellant to death. (2) Direct appeal to this Court is automatic. (3)

The appellant raises four points of error challenging his conviction and sentence. In three of the points of error, he claims that the trial court erred by improperly denying him the fundamental constitutional right to present a meaningful defense by excluding the testimony of one witness and limiting the cross-examination of two other witnesses. The appellant also claims that the trial court erred in admitting a "Case Summary" of his previous conviction during the punishment phase of his trial, which he claims was prepared in anticipation of litigation. We reject each of his contentions and affirm the trial court's judgment.


In his second point of error, the appellant challenges the trial court's refusal to allow witness Damont Jackson to testify during the guilt phase of the trial. The appellant contends that the trial court's erroneous evidentiary ruling denied him the fundamental constitutional right to present a meaningful defense.

He argues that he has a fundamental right to present evidence of his defense so long as the evidence is relevant and is not excluded by an established evidentiary rule. (4) Evidence is relevant if it has been shown to be material to a fact in issue and if it makes that fact more probable than it would be without the evidence. (5) We review the trial court's decision to bar the admission of evidence under an abuse of discretion standard. (6)

The appellant was charged with the December 17, 1999, murder of correctional officer Daniel Nagle, which occurred in the McConnell prison unit in Beeville, Texas. State's witness Anthony Casey, an inmate who was housed in the same unit as the appellant at the time of the offense, testified that on the day of the murder he heard the appellant talking to an inmate named Flash about a weapon. The appellant also told Casey that "something was going to happen." Casey later saw that the appellant was inside the locked multipurpose room that was connected to Nagle's office. The appellant told Casey not to come into the multipurpose room. Casey went outside to the "rec yard" and through a glass window he saw the appellant standing near Nagle's desk. He then saw the appellant walking towards the "C-Pod" area of the prison. He later saw the appellant in a hallway. While in the hallway, the appellant took off his clothes, pushed them through a "gas port" onto the rec yard, and changed into another set of clothes provided by an inmate. Casey picked up the appellant's discarded clothes and placed them in a box in the rec yard. Casey observed blood on the appellant's discarded clothes.

After the State rested, defense counsel attempted to call witness Damont Jackson to the stand. Defense counsel argued that Jackson's testimony was necessary to show that Casey made a prior inconsistent statement that was admissible under Texas Rule of Evidence 801(e). Jackson initially testified outside the presence of the jury that he overheard Casey and inmates Bill Spaulding and Randy Burns say that the appellant did not murder Nagle, that "some Mexican dude" did it, and that they were going to testify because they had something to gain from the District Attorney. Jackson later clarified what he heard:

[JACKSON]: Spaulding - - Spaulding told me the most - - he's the one that told me the most stuff.

THE COURT: Yeah, but Spaulding hasn't testified to the jury. Okay?

[JACKSON]: Okay.

THE COURT: I am allowing - - see, the jury has heard Casey but they haven't heard Spaulding.

Now, if they bring Spaulding to testify and he testifies, I may let you come back and say if it's different than what he said in your presence, but right now we're only dealing with Casey. Okay?

[JACKSON]: Well, Spaulding is the one who disclosed the most information, you know.

THE COURT: Casey didn't say - -

[JACKSON]: Casey didn't say all that Spaulding said, so - -

[PROSECUTOR]: What did Casey say?

THE COURT: He says - - what, if anything, did Casey say in your presence?

[JACKSON]: I just heard him talking to Burns in a holdover cage, you know, on a block. And he said that he wished we would stay out of his business because we were going to end up making him get a murder case because we disclosed what he said; then, you know, he was going to have to ride his own heat.

Upon further questioning, Jackson also stated that he never heard Casey say that the appellant did not murder Nagle. Instead, Casey told another inmate, Kevin Veschi, that "Pruett didn't stab the officer but he was going to testify anyway to get a case off of him," and Veschi relayed this information to Jackson.

After hearing Jackson's testimony outside the presence of the jury, the trial court refused to permit him to testify in front of the jury:

THE COURT: . . . And if he is a witness to the incident, then, I'll let him testify. But he is here to tell people that he is not supposed to say something he never heard uttered in his presence.

[DEFENSE COUNSEL]: He is here to tell people that a witness told him not to say something that he knew that he did.

THE COURT: You have got it on the record. My ruling is that he doesn't get to testify since - -


THE COURT: - - that is all he is being offered for.

You may step down.

The trial court did not abuse its discretion in deciding to exclude Jackson's testimony. Jackson never personally heard Casey make a prior inconsistent statement. Even assuming that the appellant met the requirements for the admission of a prior inconsistent, there was no hearsay exception offered for Veschi's statement to Jackson. Jackson's testimony was not admissible. Point of error two is overruled.

In his fourth point of error, the appellant again argues that the trial court denied him the fundamental constitutional right to present a meaningful defense. He specifically complains that the trial court erroneously excluded evidence "that Nagle's death may have been related to an investigation involving correctional officers smuggling contraband into the prison."

Defense counsel informed the trial court outside the presence of the jury that he wanted to question Thomas J. Prasifka, the warden of the McConnell prison unit, about "the fact that there were 30 or more officers indicted for smuggling dope into the prison and that Officer Nagle may have actually ratted some of them out."

Defense counsel argued that this evidence was necessary to show that "[t]here was a motive for the gang members who were getting the drugs to kill Mr. Nagle, and there was a motive for corrupt guards to kill Mr. Nagle." Defense counsel questioned Prasifka outside the jury's presence to determine if Nagle had any involvement in the investigation of the indicted correctional officers. Prasifka testified that Nagle did not act as an informant and had no involvement in the investigation. The trial court refused to permit defense counsel to pursue this line of questioning with Prasifka in front of the jury.

Defense counsel failed to produce any evidence in support of his speculative theory that Nagle was killed in retaliation for acting as an informant against his fellow correctional officers. As this court noted in Wiley v State, "The danger of 'confusion of the issues' and 'misleading the jury' arises when circumstantial evidence tends to sidetrack the jury into consideration of factual disputes only tangentially related to facts at issue in the current case." (7) Prasifka denied that Nagle had any involvement in the investigation. Allowing the appellant to explore this issue without further evidence and in the face of Prasifka's denial of a link between Nagle and the investigation would serve no purpose but to "confus[e] the issues" and "mislead[] the jury." (8) The trial court did not abuse its discretion in refusing to permit defense counsel to question Prasifka about this issue in front of the jury. Point of error four is overruled.


The appellant contends in his third point of error that the trial court improperly limited his cross-examination of Dr. Lloyd White, the medical examiner who performed the victim's autopsy.

At the time of the trial, Child Protective Services ("CPS") was investigating White and his family regarding the welfare of his minor child. The State requested "that any testimony about White's difficulty with the Child Protective Services not be made a part of this testimony and before this jury." After permitting defense counsel to question White outside the presence of the jury to determine whether or not he had a bias or expected any favors from the State in return for his testimony, the trial court ruled that White could not be asked about the CPS investigation.

The exposure of a witness's motivation to testify for or against the accused or the State is a proper and important purpose of cross-examination. (9) The burden of showing the relevance of particular evidence to the issue of bias rests on its proponent. (10) The parameters of cross-examination for a showing of bias are within the sound discretion of the trial court. (11) The trial court may impose reasonable limits on cross-examination to avoid harassment, prejudice, confusion of the issues, endangering the witness, and the injection of cumulative or collateral evidence. (12) The trial court's determination is not reversible unless the appellant shows a clear abuse of discretion. (13)

Before a party may impeach a witness by showing bias, a specific connection between the witness's testimony and the cause must be shown that discloses an actual bias or motive. (14) To establish this connection, the witness should be asked about any possible interest or bias he may have before there is an attempt to prove interest or bias otherwise. (15) Then the witness must first be informed about the circumstances supporting a claim of bias or interest and must be given an opportunity to explain or deny such circumstances. (16)

White testified outside the presence of the jury that he believed that CPS was harassing him because they were dissatisfied with his expert testimony on sudden death syndrome in other, unrelated infant death cases. He stated that he was apprehensive about testifying in the instant case because during the course of their investigation CPS "listed the fact that [he] testified in court as evidence that [he] was incompetent and mentally unbalanced and not a fit parent because that testimony required [him] to miss some meetings that they had scheduled." Despite his apprehension about testifying, White clarified that he would "tell the truth and give a full objective answer in every case." He further testified that he did not have any deal with the State in exchange for his testimony and that "[t]here would be no bias that would cause [him] to lie."

The trial judge in this case assessed whether there was a potential for bias based upon the testimony of White and found that the appellant failed to demonstrate that White had any bias for or against the State of Texas stemming from the pending CPS investigation. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in limiting the cross-examination of White. Point of error three is overruled.


In his first point of error, the appellant asserts that the trial court erred in admitting State's Exhibit 62 during the punishment phase of the trial. State's Exhibit 62 is a packet comprising numerous records from the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). The appellant specifically complains about a portion of State's Exhibit 62 entitled "Case Summary," which describes the murder for which he was incarcerated when he committed the instant offense.

The appellant first argues that the Case Summary does not purport to be a "Classification Record" as referred to in the affidavit. He next argues that the prison employee who produced the "Case Summary" did not have knowledge of the events recorded. He also argues that "the documents in SX-62 were not generated by prison employees." The appellant, however, failed to object on these bases at trial, so these particular complaints are not preserved for our review. (17)

The appellant also argues that State's Exhibit 62 was inadmissible because the records contained therein "were compiled for the purpose of litigation." (18) This complaint is preserved for our review because the appellant objected on this basis at trial. Barbara Trevino, the chief of classification and the custodian of records at the John B. Connally Unit of TDCJ, initially testified that the records were compiled for the purpose of litigation when she was questioned by defense counsel. However, upon further questioning by the prosecutor, Trevino testified as follows:

[PROSECUTOR]: You were asked if these were prepared for litigation. And I know that you put them together at our request for this case, but you didn't actually write out all these records so we could use them in court, did you?

[TREVINO]: No, sir.

[PROSECUTOR]: These records previously existed?

[TREVINO]: Yes, sir.

[PROSECUTOR]: Some of them are six years old; is that correct?

[TREVINO]: Yes, sir.

[PROSECUTOR]: So when you were asked if they were prepared for litigation, in one sense they were, you put them together.

[TREVINO]: I compiled them for you, yes, sir.

[PROSECUTOR]: To make a packet for us, but you didn't actually create the records?

[TREVINO]: No, sir.

Trevino clarified that the records themselves were not actually created in anticipation of litigation. The appellant has failed to establish that the trial court erroneously admitted State's Exhibit 62. Point of error one is overruled.

We affirm the judgment of the trial court.

Delivered: September 22, 2004.

Do Not Publish.


1. Tex. Pen. Code § 19.03(a).

2. Art. 37.071, § 2(g).

3. Art. 37.071, § 2(h).

4. See Miller v. State, 36 S.W.3d 503, 507 (Tex. Crim. App. 2001).

5. Ibid.

6. Ibid.

7. 74 S.W.3d 399, 407 n.21(Tex. Crim. App. 2000).

8. Ibid.

9. Ibid.; Carpenter v. State, 979 S.W.2d 633, 634 (Tex. Crim. App. 1998).

10. Chambers v. State, 866 S.W.2d 9, 26-27 (Tex. Crim. App. 1993).

11. Id., at 27.

12. Lagrone, 942 S.W.2d at 613.

13. Chambers, 866 S.W.2d at 27.

14. Willingham v. State, 897 S.W.2d 351, 358 (Tex. Crim. App. 1995).

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid.

17. TEX. R. APP. P. 33.1.

18. See Cole v. State, 839 S.W.2d 798, 809 n.9 (Tex. Crim. App. 1990)(noting that reports prepared in contemplation of litigation are inherently unreliable due to the maker's bias and motivation to make misrepresentations).



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