A Jeff Ross 2015 comedy special is at the center of death penalty appeal to SCOTUS

Roastmaster comedian Jeff Ross has found himself bang in the center of a Supreme Court murder case that involves a special he did from inside a Texas jail in 2015. 

While filming a controversial show for Comedy Central inside the Brazos County Detention Center titled Jeff Ross Roasts Criminals: Live at Brazos County Jail, Ross, who is still facing sexual misconduct allegations, interviewed convicted murderer Gabriel Hall. 

Hall was found guilty of the 2011 murder of a retired college professor and of attacking his disabled wife in College Station, Texas, in 2015. At the time of the interview, he was awaiting sentencing. Later that year, Hall received the death sentence.

Defense attorneys are taking issue with the fact that prior to sentencing, jurors were twice shown footage of the interview, in violation of Hall’s sixth amendment right to an impartial jury. 

The 17-minute long interview that Ross conducted with Hall in 2015 for the special Jeff Ross Roasts Criminals: Live at Brazos County Jail

The 17-minute long interview that Ross conducted with Hall in 2015 for the special Jeff Ross Roasts Criminals: Live at Brazos County Jail

Hall’s lawyer, McKenzie Edwards, tweeted Wednesday that she, along with the murderer’s other attorneys, is asking the Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of Hall’s sentence.

She wrote on Twitter: ‘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.’

During the piece, Ross joked Hall ‘must have done something crazy’ to be in jail because of his Asian ethnicity and said that the murderer seemed like a ‘scary dude.’ Lawyers allege that Ross unfairly influenced the jurors. 

Hall, a high school student at the time of the murder, had admitted to killing Edwin Shaar and brutally attacking his wife, Linda, at her home. Hall stabbed and shot Shaar at close range. 

During the piece, Ross joked Hall 'must have done something crazy' to be in jail because of his Asian ethnicity and said that the murderer seemed like a 'scary dude'

During the piece, Ross joked Hall ‘must have done something crazy’ to be in jail because of his Asian ethnicity and said that the murderer seemed like a ‘scary dude’

Prosecutors argued during sentencing that the footage proved that Hall had no remorse for his crimes

Prosecutors argued during sentencing that the footage proved that Hall had no remorse for his crimes

During his confession to police, Hall said that he enjoyed stabbing Shaar and wasn’t distracted by his wife’s pleas for mercy.  

In the 17 minute long interview, Ross asks Hall: ‘What are you in here for?’ He quickly follows up by asking: ‘Hacking someone’s computer?’

Hall responds: ‘Something like that, yes.’ A different inmate not captured on camera chimes in and says: ”Hacking’ being the operative word.’ The teen then says: ‘Yeah. Yeah, used a machete on someone’s screen, so.’

In another part, Hall spoke about the death penalty in Texas saying: ‘They’ll hang you for the, they’ll hang you for—well, they, they’ll basically, screw you over, over the most, uh, petty s***, so.’ 

Ross later calls Hall ‘a scary dude.’  At the time of sentencing, prosecutors said that the footage showed that Hall showed a ‘lack of remorse for having committed capital murder.’

The unaired footage was obtained following a subpoena by prosecutors.  

When describing Ross, the petition reads: 'Ross rose to prominence in the 'comedy roast' format, which places a premium on the host's ability to deliver "'outrageous' jabs that provoke a subject into responding. He has been described as 'the new millennium"'

When describing Ross, the petition reads: ‘Ross rose to prominence in the ‘comedy roast’ format, which places a premium on the host’s ability to deliver “‘outrageous’ jabs that provoke a subject into responding. He has been described as ‘the new millennium”‘

In another part, Hall spoke about the death penalty in Texas saying: 'They¿ll hang you for the, they¿ll hang you for¿well, they, they¿ll basically, screw you over, over the most, uh, petty s***, so'

In another part, Hall spoke about the death penalty in Texas saying: ‘They’ll hang you for the, they’ll hang you for—well, they, they’ll basically, screw you over, over the most, uh, petty s***, so’

The new petition accuses the footage of showing ‘numerous vulgar provocations by Ross and damaging responses from Petitioner (Hall).’ 

Another section of the petition reads: ‘The State gave a third-party civilian otherwise unobtainable physical access to Petitioner and then used the statements that civilian elicited from Petitioner as evidence against petitioner at the penalty phase of his capital murder trial.’

When describing Ross, the petition reads: ‘Ross rose to prominence in the ‘comedy roast’ format, which places a premium on the host’s ability to deliver ‘outrageous’ jabs that provoke a subject into responding. He has been described as ‘the new millennium.”

The petition also describes the entire premise of the comedy special saying that it included ‘Hostile and dehumanizing statements about inmates and confinement generally,’ such as a question, ‘How many [of you] guys have lied so much they don’t know the difference [any]more?” 

According to other released transcripts from the interview, the pair joke about hurting a fly, when Ross asks if the murderer would hurt a person, Hall replies: ‘Eh, they’re annoying. We’ll leave ’em to their own devices, so,’ according to Law and Crime. 

The Brazos County Sheriff’s Office invited Ross and Comedy Central into the detention center for a special for the network. 

In 2019, Brazos County Sheriff Chris Kirk told KBTX about the motivations for the invitation. 

Kirk said: ‘It was part of our inmate behavior management program where we encourage good behavior from the second they walk into the jail and in this case for a month prior to the event they had to exhibit good behavior and then personally request to be included in the show.’

The sheriff also said that Ross’s team was asked not to include Hall’s interview in the show, to which they complied. 

The Supreme Court will decide whether or not to consider the case when the nine justices meet for conference on January 6.  

source: dailymail.co.uk