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This testimony was followed by that of Selena Elms, by far the most compelling evidence against Sharp, who unqualifiedly identified Sharp as the murderer of her mother.
The state also offered evidence that Sharp's truck contained hairs matching that of the three victims, that mud at the scene of the crime was consistent with mud at the oil rig where Sharp worked, and that traces of human blood had been found on Sharp's knife.
On June 21, 1982, a Winkler County grand jury returned three indictments charging Sharp with the capital murders of Brenda Kay Broadway and Christy Elms and the aggravated kidnaping of Selena Elms. As we have noted previously, “[c]riminal defense counsel need not be omniscient, and they are not always omnipotent with respect to the protection of a client's rights.” Childs v.
Upon motion for change of venue the defendant's trial was moved to Lubbock, Texas where Sharp was tried and convicted of the murder of Christy Elms. If under this standard we adjudge counsel's performance to have been deficient, then we must determine whether there exists a reasonable probability that but for the complained-of error the outcome of the trial or appeal would have been different.
Smith, who had interviewed Sharp prior to his first trial, was investigating the disappearance of Blanca Arreola, a young, pregnant Odessa woman who had been missing since May of 1982.
Although the record is somewhat unclear whether Sharp admitted to murdering Arreola, he led authorities to her buried body in a remote location in Ector County.
Because of a defect in the indictment the death penalty could not be imposed and Sharp was sentenced to life imprisonment.
At Sharp's trial for Broadway's murder the state presented testimony from several women that Sharp had attempted to lure them into his truck on the evening of the murders. On May 19, 1983, Sharp was found guilty of murdering Broadway and the punishment phase of the trial began. The state presented evidence of the Broadway and Christy Elms murders and of Sharp's four prior state felony convictions, including two convictions for aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon. The magistrate judge, after several evidentiary hearings, filed findings of fact and legal conclusions, ultimately adopted by the district court, which recommended that Sharp's petition for habeas relief be dismissed.
The district court granted Sharp a certificate of probable cause to appeal. Analysis We note at the outset that the magistrate judge found Sharp had not procedurally defaulted any of his claims because the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, the last state court to review Sharp's case, stated no grounds for its denial of writ.
Assuming these allegations of prosecutorial obstruction to be true, it cannot be gainsaid that the evidence of the Arreola murder was known to Sharp.