U.S. Supreme Court justices scheduled a criminal appeal for a Texas inmate facing the death penalty after a court used footage of comedian Jeff Ross roasting the convicted prisoner in a Comedy Central special.
Gabriel Paul Hall, who was convicted in 2015 of murdering a retired Texas A&M University professor and disabled veteran Edwin Shaar and stabbing Sharr’s disabled wife Linda in their College Station home in 2011, received a death sentence after the court used the footage from “Jeff Ross Roasts Criminals: Live At Brazos County Jail” as evidence against him in the penalty phase of the trial.
Hall was an 18-year-old student at A&M Consolidated High School at the time of the murder.
“Ross interviewed Petitioner [Hall], who was awaiting trial after being indicted on a high-profile capital murder charge,” the petition reads. “Petitioner’s counsel were not advised of the interview, despite having previously sent the Sheriff a ‘no contact’ letter instructing him to give no one access to Petitioner without their consent.”
Law and Crime reported that court documents showed the judge admitted the footage during the penalty phase of Hall’s case.
The footage contained recorded interviews of Ross and Hall at the detention center, which permitted the comedian to speak with any inmate on camera that signed a release form.
During the exchange between Ross and Hall, the comedian asked why the inmate was in jail.
“Hacking somebody’s computer?” Ross said.
“Something like that, yes,” Hall responded.
Another inmate said, “‘Hacking’ being the operative word.”
“Yeah,” Hall said. “Yeah, used a machete on someone’s screen, so.”
Ross later referred to the prisoner as “a scary dude,” to which Hall responded that he “wouldn’t hurt a fly.”
“Really?” Ross said. “What about a human?”
“Eh, they’re annoying,” Hall responded. “We’ll leave ’em to their own devices, so.”
Attorneys for Hall said the interview, which prosecutors played twice for the jury, included “numerous vulgar provocations by Ross and damaging responses from Petitioner.”
They said the video portrayed Hall in a “highly prejudicial” way that mocked Hall’s appearance, demeanor, and ethnic Asian heritage, where he was referred to as “Slim Sushi.”
However, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected Hall’s appeal, saying his comments showed a lack of remorse.
Ross has not responded to requests for comment by media outlets.
McKenzie Edwards, Hall’s attorney, tweeted Wednesday that the counsel team has asked the nation’s highest court to review the constitutionality of her client’s sentence.
“A Texas jail volunteered to let Comedy Central comedian Jeff Ross roast its inmates,” Edwards said. “It encouraged inmates to participate. Texas then used the footage to sentence my client, Gabriel Hall, to death.”
A Texas jail volunteered to let Comedy Central comedian Jeff Ross roast its inmates. It encouraged inmates to participate. Texas then used the footage to sentence my client, Gabriel Hall, to death.
We’re asking #SCOTUS to review the constitutionality of Mr. Hall’s sentence. pic.twitter.com/JFNFskKHDw
— McKenzie Edwards (@mckeds) December 28, 2022
Hall has asked SCOTUS to overturn the death sentence because he was denied his Sixth Amendment right to counsel.
Supreme Court justices are set to discuss Hall’s appeal and decide whether to consider the case on January 6.