TEXAS—-new execution date
Virgil Martinez has been given an execution date of January 28, 2008; it
should be considered serious.
(sources: TDCJ & Rick Halperin)
Man set to die for 1995 slaying wins reprieve
A Houston man who participated in a notorious death row escape attempt a
decade ago won a reprieve to keep him from the Texas death chamber Tuesday
for the fatal shooting of a woman during an abduction.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued the stay of execution for
convicted killer Eric Dewayne Cathey, 37, about 4 1/2 hours before he was
scheduled for lethal injection.
Cathey had insisted he wasn't involved in the slaying of 20-year-old
Christina Castillo, who was grabbed outside her Houston apartment complex,
blindfolded and tied up with duct tape, then shot and dumped in a field.
Prosecutors said Cathey was the gunman among several men involved in the
1995 abduction because they believed Castillo's boyfriend was a drug
dealer and hoped to get information from her to steal his drugs and money.
Attorneys filed appeals late Monday contending they had evidence of Cathey
was mentally retarded and ineligible for execution under U.S. Supreme
"I was surprised, but I'm happy with that," Cathey's lawyer, Kevin Dunn,
said. He said the reprieve would give attorneys time to develop additional
information to support their mental retardation claim.
Cathey would have been the 18th Texas inmate executed this year. Another
lethal injection is set for Thursday in the nation's busiest death penalty
Cathey was among seven condemned inmates who staged a daring prison break
on Thanksgiving night in 1998. He got as far the top of a second fence
surrounding the outside of the Ellis Unit prison before gunshots from
officers convinced him to surrender.
Prisoner Martin Gurule was the only one to get over the 2nd fence and
disappear into the foggy night. After an intense manhunt, his body was
found a week later in a creek a couple miles from the prison. An autopsy
showed he had been shot once but that he died of drowning.
The escape prompted Texas corrections officials to move death row to the
more modern and secure Polunsky Unit, about 45 miles to the east near
Livingston. Life for inmates on death row also became considerably more
restrictive, with privileges eliminated like television access and an
inmate work program that allowed them time away from their cell.
Castillo's body was found by a man collecting aluminum cans more than a
week after she was reported missing.
More than 4 months later, Cathey and several of his companions were
arrested in Brookshire, west of Houston, where one of the group involved
in Castillo's abduction had become a paid police informant.
The inmate set to die Thursday is Robert Jean Hudson, convicted for the
1999 fatal stabbing of his ex-girlfriend, Edith Kendrick, at her home in
Mesquite in Dallas County.
(source: Associated Press)