Cantu v. State

In Cantu v. State, 939 S.W.2d 627 (Tex. Crim. App. 1997), the defendant was involved in the kidnaping, rape and murder of two girls in the same criminal episode. During the punishment phase of his trial for the kidnaping, rape and murder of one of the girls, the State presented testimony from the mother of the second victim regarding her daughter's good character, the family's search for her, and the impact of the crime on the family. The defendant objected that this "victim impact" evidence regarding a victim not named in the indictment was not relevant to the special issues, and that it was more prejudicial than probative. Id. at 636. The Court agreed that the evidence as to her good character, activities she enjoyed, and the impact of her death on her family was not relevant as appellant was not on trial for her murder and such evidence served no purpose other than to inflame the jury. The Court held such evidence to be irrelevant and highly prejudicial. Id. at 637.