MySpace Murder Conviction Upheld by TX Appeals Court
A Texas court has upheld the use of a man's MySpace posts in his murder conviction, despite lingering questions about whether he actually wrote the posts.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled there was "ample circumstantial evidence" to prove Ronnie Tienda Jr. created and maintained the MySpace posts that boasted about a 2007 murder, the Associated Press reports.
"I kill to stay rich!" one MySpace post said, while another included a photo of Tienda's distinctive gang tattoo, according to the AP.
But the MySpace "evidence" can't be authenticated and is therefore not credible, Tienda's lawyer argued.
In its ruling, Texas' highest criminal court acknowledged that "computers can be hacked, protected passwords can be compromised, and cell phones can be purloined."
However, in Ronnie Tienda Jr.'s MySpace murder conviction, his social-networking page contained an email address, home ZIP code, photos, and even a link to a song played at the murder victim's funeral, the court explained.
Taken together, the facts "support a finding that the MySpace pages belonged to [Tienda] and that he created and maintained them," the court said, according to the AP.
Circumstantial evidence is often used in criminal cases as an indirect way to prove a fact. A party must show that other facts are so closely linked to the fact at issue, that the fact at issue can be inferred.
Ronnie Tienda Jr. is set to serve 35 years in prison for the 2007 murder, thanks in part to his MySpace posts. Because Tienda had prior convictions for robbery, he won't be eligible for parole until 2026, the AP reports.
- Top Texas Criminal Court OKs Use of Defendant's MySpace Pages to Convict Him in Slaying (ABA Journal)
- Texas Criminal Laws (FindLaw)
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- Facebook and MySpace Postings in Court: In a Lawsuit, Privacy Settings May Not Matter (FindLaw's Writ)
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