death penalty news—-TEXAS

July 30

TEXAS:

Execution date set for convicted murderer

The state has scheduled the execution of a man who killed 3 Amarillo
teenagers in 1998.

John Lezell Balentine, 40, will be executed by lethal injection Sept. 30,
officials said. In 1999, a Potter County jury convicted and sentenced
Balentine to death for killing Mark Edward Caylor Jr., 17; Steven Brady
Watson, 15; and Kai Brooke Geyer, 15, as the trio slept in a home at 510
E. 17th Ave. in January 1998.

Each was shot once in the head. A 4th person asleep in a back bedroom was
not harmed.

Randall Sims, 47th District attorney, said Wednesday the state contacted
his office to schedule the execution as Balentine nears the end of his
appeals process. Sims' office then filed paperwork to request the date of
execution.

Sims said the victims' families were notified of the date.

Prosecutors have said Balentine confessed to the slayings.

They said he told police investigators that he targeted Caylor in his home
because he had repeatedly threatened Balentine and his friends after
Balentine had physically abused Caylor's sister, with whom he previously
had a relationship.

Balentine also told officials he was angered that Caylor and his friends
used drugs in the home while a baby also lived there, investigators said
during the trial.

According to his confession presented during trial, Balentine said he went
to Caylor's home and saw him asleep in the living room along with Watson
and Geyer.

When his .32-caliber pistol jammed, he fired the gun in the alley, then
crawled through a window, went to the living room and shot the teens as
they slept, according to his statement.

(source: Amarillo Globe-News)