Death Sentence Upheld by Texas Court of Criminal Appeals for Ex-Marine Accused of Siblings’ Deaths

In May of 2010, former Marine John Thuesen went on trial for capital murder in the shooting deaths of Rachel and Travis Joiner, Texas A&M student siblings who were found dead in their home in College Station. Rachel Joiner was Thuesen’s ex-girlfriend; it is believed Thuesen killed her out of jealousy shortly after she began a relationship with an old boyfriend, Jonathan Mathis.

Thuesen was convicted of the murders in 2010, and has been on death row ever since. According to, Rachel Joiner had asked Thuesen for ‘space’ about a week prior to her death, and was spending time with Mathis, a man she had been involved in an on and off relationship with. News reports indicate that Travis Joiner was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Rachel Joiner spent the night at Mathis’s home on the evening prior to her murder; on that evening, Thuesen came to Mathis’s home where Joiner took him into another room to talk. Mathis said he did not know how Thuesen knew where he lived. The next day Thuesen allegedly waited down the block from the Joiner’s home for hours, according to neighbors who said he had the windshield facing the home. A neighbor heard gunshots when she came home from her job on her lunch hour to pay a bill.

In appealing his conviction, Thuesen’s attorneys contended that their client did not mean to kill the siblings, and that he was mentally impaired as he was suffering from PTSD after leaving the military. There were 45 claims of error asserted by the defendant and his lawyers n the appeal, the majority of which had to do with juror instruction, evidence, and objection rulings made by the trial judge.

The state’s court of criminal appeals judges rejected those claims, ultimately upholding Thuesen’s death sentence.

Michigan criminal appeals lawyers know how difficult it is to win an appeal, and that the process in the state is extremely complicated. An appeal is not an opportunity for someone who has been convicted to present his or her case again, but rather a review of the proceedings and documentation by a panel of judges who hear the grounds for the appeal, and closely scrutinize whether errors or mistakes were made, or the defendant’s rights violated.

If you have been convicted of a serious crime such as murder, armed robbery, or carjacking and feel that your conviction was unfair, consult with a Michigan criminal appeals attorney with a proven track record for obtaining good results.

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