Archive | Stay of execution

30 March 2016 ~ Comments Off on Federal appeals court stays the execution of John Battaglia

Federal appeals court stays the execution of John Battaglia

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has granted a stay of execution to John Battaglia, who was scheduled to be put to death tonight for the 2001 murders of his two daughters, Faith and Liberty, ages 9 and 6, in Dallas County. Battaglia is now 60 years old.  His attorneys argued they needed more time to develop claims he may be mentally incompetent for execution.  The Texas Attorney General’s office will not appeal the court’s decision.  From the Texas Tribune:

During his trial, multiple forensic psychiatrists testified that Battaglia had bipolar disorder, according to court documents. Since he has been on death row, he has blamed his daughters’ deaths on different conspiracies, with theories ranging from the Ku Klux Klan to his ex-wife and the Dallas County district attorney.

In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of Ford v. Wainwright that it is unconstitutional to execute someone who does not understand the reason for, or the reality of, his or her punishment. The Ford decision left the determination of competency for execution up to each state, however, and it has not prevented the execution of scores of offenders diagnosed with severe and persistent mental illnesses.  The Texas Legislature did not establish a statute governing the process to determine competency to be executed until 1999.

The U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which considers cases from Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, has never found a death row inmate incompetent for execution. In a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Panetti vs. Quarterman, the justices ruled that “the Fifth Circuit’s incompetency standard is too restrictive to afford a prisoner Eighth Amendment protections.” At issue is the distinction between a prisoner’s “awareness” versus “rational understanding” of why she/he is to be executed.

As reported by the Tribune:

Battaglia’s “delusions and complete loss of reality prevent him from understanding the connection between his conduct and his pending execution,” his attorney, Greg Gardner, said in his latest filing. “Instead, Mr. Battaglia believes he will be executed for the actions of others, who conspired in impossible and sometimes undefined ways to falsely convict and execute him.”

According to Gardner, the case will go back to district court in Dallas and mental health experts will be retained to evaluate Battaglia’s competency.

Read more about the case and the stay of execution from the Texas Tribune.

The Death Penalty Information Center has posted the Fifth Circuit’s decision here.

The State of Texas has executed five people to date in 2016; there have been a total of nine executions nationwide.  This is the first scheduled execution in Texas to be stayed by the courts.  Last year, 12 individuals scheduled for execution received reprieves, including stays granted by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the withdrawal of execution dates.  None of those stays came from the Fifth Circuit.

 

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18 November 2015 ~ Comments Off on Judge halts today’s scheduled execution of Raphael Holiday

Judge halts today’s scheduled execution of Raphael Holiday

A state district judge has withdrawn the execution date for Raphael Holiday, who was scheduled to be put to death this evening.  It was the last execution scheduled by the State of Texas this year.

According to the Dallas Morning News, “Madison County state district Judge Hal Ridley granted a motion from Holiday’s original trial lawyers that called for a halt to the execution. The lawyers argued that additional time was needed give Holiday a meaningful chance at clemency.”

Special prosecutors in the Texas Attorney General’s Office have asked the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals to reinstate the date: http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/2015/11/execution-date-withdrawn-for-death-row-inmate-set-to-die-wednesday.html/.

Holiday was convicted of the arson murders of three young children in 2000 in Madison County: Tierra Lynch, 7, Jasmine DuPaul, 5, and 18-month-old Justice Holiday, his daughter.  Earlier this summer, after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a petition to review his case, his appointed attorneys told him there was nothing else they could do to help him.  They reportedly refused to seek clemency from the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles.

Read more about the case:

http://www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20151116-condemned-mans-lawyers-stop-helping-cite-false-hope.ece

http://www.buzzfeed.com/tasneemnashrulla/texas-set-to-execute-man-who-says-his-lawyers-have-abandoned?utm_term=.dqZlgXEdM#.vk1lDrjmd

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/texas/article/Texas-man-set-to-die-for-fire-that-killed-3-6640036.php

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The State of Georgia is scheduled to carry out the last U.S. execution of the year tomorrow.  A new piece by Sara Totonchi, the Executive Director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, highlights Five Things Wrong with Georgia’s Death Penalty. She writes:

Since December 2014, Georgia has executed a man whose drunk lawyer bungled the case, a man with intellectual disabilities, a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder, and a woman who planned but did not actually commit murder. These cases are no outliers; they are emblematic of a particularly harsh time in our state’s history when death sentences were handed out frequently despite substantive and procedural flaws. And they encapsulate what’s wrong with capital punishment in Georgia.

bit.ly/1MBk55n

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12 October 2015 ~ Comments Off on Texas Court of Criminal Appeals grants stay of execution to Julius Murphy

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals grants stay of execution to Julius Murphy

Late today the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a stay of execution to Julius Murphy, pending further order from the court.  Murphy was scheduled to be executed on November 3 for the 1997 robbery and shooting of Jason Erie. On September 24, 2015 attorneys filed pleadings identifying the existence of new evidence of prosecutorial misconduct calling into question the reliability of his conviction and death sentence. Those pleadings can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/1jdURm1.

In addition to the new evidence of prosecutorial misconduct, Murphy’s case has many other elements common to problematic death penalty cases, including intellectual disability, racial bias, and serious questions of arbitrariness and proportionality.  Mr. Murphy, African American man, was 18 years old at the time of the crime and was sentenced to death by an all-white jury.  His co-defendant is serving a sentence of life in prison.

Attorney Statement in Response to Today’s Stay of Execution in the Julius Murphy Case by the TX Court of Criminal Appeals   

“The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals was correct to stay the execution of Julius Murphy today. Mr. Murphy’s conviction and death sentence were procured through prosecutorial misconduct.  Jurors considered evidence from two key witnesses while the prosecution unlawfully concealed the fact that those witnesses were pressured into testifying with threats of prosecution and promised leniency if they testified. And one of the witnesses has now identified Mr. Murphy’s co-defendant as the true shooter. We look forward to continuing to raise the constitutional infirmities underlying Mr. Murphy’s conviction and death sentence before the courts.”

-Catherine E. Stetson of Hogan Lovells, attorney for Julius Murphy, October 12, 2015 

Today’s Stay Order can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/1K4XTyd

Read more from Reuters.

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25 August 2015 ~ Comments Off on Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halts execution of Nicaraguan national Bernardo Tercero

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halts execution of Nicaraguan national Bernardo Tercero

Earlier today, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a stay of execution to Bernardo Aban Tercero, a national of Nicaragua who was scheduled to be executed tomorrow, August 26, 2015.  From Allan Turner with the Houston Chronicle:

In an affidavit submitted to the court by Tercero’s Austin attorney Walter Long, witness Sylvia Cotera said that she falsely testified that Tercero told her that he had shot his victim because the man had no money. “He never talked to me about the amount of money he robbed nor that he was angry because the man did not have very much money,” she said in the statement. “What I sad about these things in my testimony wasn’t the truth.”

According to the Chronicle, the appeals court issued the stay so that the case’s trial court could consider the merits of the new appeal.

Read the full story here.

Tercero is the eighth person to receive a stay of execution this year in Texas.  At this time, six additional executions are scheduled to take place by the end of 2015.

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17 July 2015 ~ Comments Off on Clifton Williams Receives Stay of Execution

Clifton Williams Receives Stay of Execution

Clifton Williams received a stay hours before his scheduled execution. He was scheduled to be put to death July 16, 2015 for the 2005 murder of a 93-year-old woman at her home during a robbery in Tyler, Texas. The stay was granted to allow time “to examine whether incorrect FBI statistics regarding DNA probabilities in population estimates cited by witnesses could have affected the outcome of Williams’ trial.” In previous unsuccessful appeals, Williams’ attorneys have focused on deficient legal aid and William’s mental impairment.

This is the sixth time this year a scheduled execution in Texas has been called off. Williams would have been the 10th inmate executed by Texas in 2015.

To read more visit ABC News.

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28 April 2015 ~ Comments Off on Robert Pruett Receives Stay of Execution

Robert Pruett Receives Stay of Execution

Robert Pruett has received a stay of execution to allow for more DNA testing of evidence.  He was scheduled to be put to death this evening for the 1999 murder of correctional officer Daniel Nagle at the McConnell Unit in Beeville.  He received a stay of execution in 2013 after prosecutors agreed to a request for DNA testing; a 2014 execution date also was withdrawn.  Pruett has consistently maintained his innocence.

Read more from The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/apr/28/texas-calls-off-robert-pruett-execution-hours.

This is the second time this month that a scheduled execution in Texas has been called off; Richard Vasquez received a stay from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals last week.

 

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22 April 2015 ~ Comments Off on Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stays execution of Richard Vasquez

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stays execution of Richard Vasquez

On April 21, 2015 the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the execution of Richard Vasquez, scheduled to take place April 23rd. In their appeal to the court, Vasquez’s attorneys contended new research on shaken baby syndrome and head injuries debunks testimony from prosecution experts at his 1999 trial. Vasquez was originally scheduled for execution on January 15, 2015, but the execution was rescheduled because the Governor was out of the state.

Read more about the ruling from the Houston Chronicle.
Read more about Richard Vasquez’s case from the Austin Chronicle.

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23 March 2015 ~ Comments Off on Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Stays Execution of Randall Mays

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Stays Execution of Randall Mays

One week ago the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals halted the execution of Randall Mays, scheduled to take place on March 18th. The court agreed with Mays’ lawyers that additional review is needed to determine if Mays is mentally competent for execution.
Texas’ highest court will now give the case a deeper look before issuing an opinion or further order.

Read more about the ruling from the Austin Chronicle and the Austin American-Statesman.

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