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Federal court gives go-ahead to appeal by Dallas man condemned for off-duty officer's slaying

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HOUSTON — A federal appeals court is allowing the convicted killer of an off-duty Dallas police officer to move forward with an appeal that contends his trial attorneys failed to provide evidence of a troubled childhood that could have swayed jurors from sending him to death row.

Lawyers for Licho Escamilla argued to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that details of his abusive upbringing weren't disclosed until after his trial. If successful, the appeal could result in a new punishment trial for the 31-year-old Escamilla. He was condemned for the 2001 fatal shooting of Christopher James, who was working security at a Dallas club.

Escamilla's 2002 trial was marked by him throwing a pitcher of water toward the jury and hitting and kicking people as the judge read his sentence.

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