The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals — the highest criminal appeals court in the state — will determine whether the 2014 capital murder conviction of Lanny Bush will stand.
    Last year, a lower appeals court reversed the capital murder conviction and ordered a new trial on punishment for the 58-year-old former Brown County man.
    Bush is still guilty of the “lesser included offense of murder” in the killing of his ex-girlfriend, Brownwood woman Michele Reiter, in September 2012, the 11th Court of Appeals in Eastland ruled in overturning the capital murder conviction.
    District Attorney Micheal Murray’s office appealed the lower court’s ruling to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals earlier this year, arguing that the lower court had erred in overturning the capital murder conviction.
    Bush is serving a life sentence without parole for the murder of Reiter, whose body was found in a shallow grave in rural Coleman County. Life without parole was the only sentence allowable in a non-death-penalty capital murder case.
     Prosecutors sought a capital murder conviction, arguing at Bush’s trial in the 42nd District Court in Coleman County that Bush had kidnapped Reiter before killing her.
    But the 11th Court of Appeals ruled there was insufficient evidence to support a capital murder conviction based on kidnapping.
    Assistant District Attorney Elisha Bird’s arguments in the state’s appeal to the higher court included her assortment that the lower court had erred by failing to consider “any reasonable inferences that could be drawn about the nature of the relationship” between Bush and Reiter.
    Although there may not be direct evidence that Reiter was moved or confined, there was “circumstantial evidence and reasonable inferences
from that circumstantial evidence” that Reiter was moved or confined, Bird asserted.
    Patrick Howard, Bush’s appellate attorney, argued in a brief that the lower court did not err in overturning the capital murder conviction.
     Bush was tried in Coleman County because Reiter’s body was found in that county, buried under a bridge that crosses Home Creek on FM 1026.  Law enforcement officials found the 38-year-old woman’s body two weeks after a roommate in Brownwood reported her missing.
    The prosecution team in the Coleman County trial consisted of Murray, then-First Assistant District Attorney Sam Moss and Coleman County District Attorney Heath Hemphill. Bush was defended by Perry Sims, a former prosecutor in Murray’s office.