Houston-area man sent to death row for fatal shooting in $8 robbery loses federal appeal

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HOUSTON — A federal appeals court has rejected an appeal from a Harris County man sentenced to die for fatally shooting a 36-year-old Houston-area man during an $8 robbery nearly 16 years ago.

Attorneys for 34-year-old Juan Martin Garcia contend he had poor legal help during his trial in 2000 and that he's mentally impaired and ineligible for the death penalty. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Friday rejected the arguments.

Evidence showed 36-year-old Hugo Solano was shot three times in the head while he was in his van at his Harris County apartment complex.

When Garcia was pulled over for a traffic stop 11 days after the slaying, a gun fell to his car's floorboard as he got out. It was matched to the weapon used in Solano's murder.

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