death penalty news—-TEXAS—-stay of impending execution

Nov. 17


Federal court grants stay of execution for Houston man ALLAN TURNER

Houston capital killer Gerald Eldridge had eaten most of his final meal of
pancakes, peanut butter, baked potato and chocolate milk this afternoon
when a Houston federal court stayed his execution — just 2 hours before
he was to be put to death.

Eldridge, 45, had been condemned for the January 1993 murders of his
ex-girlfriend Cynthia Bogany, 28, and her 9-year-old daughter, Chirrisa.

Prison spokesman Jason Clark said Eldridge was talking on the telephone
with a relative when he was told of the stay.

"He became very emotional," Clark said. Prison authorities were preparing
to return him to death row in nearby Livingston.

U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal granted Eldridge a 90-day stay and
authorized expenditure of $7,500 for further psychiatric examinations.

Eldridge's attorney, Lee Wilson of Houston, had argued in his appeal that
the killer might be seriously mentally ill and incompetent to be executed.
Under state law, a person must understand that he will be executed and why
before he legally can be put to death.

Prosecutor Inger Hampton responded that Eldridge was likely faking
insanity to avoid execution.

In her decision, Rosenthal noted that a state court previously gave the
killer only enough money for a preliminary psychiatric evaluation,
accepted the state's expert opinion and did not give Eldridge an
opportunity to respond to the prosecution.

In a preliminary mental health assessment submitted by Wilson, a
psychologist found Eldridge suffered hallucinations and probable
delusional thinking and might not be competent to be executed. She
recommended he undergo further pscyhological testing.

A state's psychiatrist, however, told the state court Eldridge appeared to
be malingering.

Wilson said his client believed that his brother daily checked him out of
prison to work at building boats. He also believed that he was married and
had seven children, all of whom lived with him in prison.

(source: Houston Chronicle)