Ninety minutes after he was scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection in Huntsville, Anthony Bartee learned that the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had declined to overturn the stay of execution granted to him earlier in the day by a federal judge in San Antonio. This effectively allowed his May 2 execution date to expire, and Bartee was removed from the holding cell next to the execution chamber at the Walls Unit and returned to death row in Livingston. Bartee was convicted and sentenced to death for the 1996 murder of David Cook in San Antonio.
Late in the day on Wednesday, Bartee’s attorneys filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Bexar County District Attorney, charging that office with violating their client’s civil rights by denying access to post-conviction DNA testing. Chief U.S. District Judge Fred Biery, acting on the lawsuit, granted Bartee the reprieve. According to the Associated Press, “a 5th Circuit panel reviewing the case said it wanted more information but put off a ruling Wednesday night. If the court eventually rules against Bartee, it could be another couple of months before he is set to die.”
Read more about the stay in the Washington Post and San Antonio Express-News.
This was the second time this year that Bartee’s execution was stopped. Just days before his scheduled execution on February 28, District Judge Mary Román withdrew the execution order and ordered additional DNA testing on strands of hair found in the hands of the victim, David Cook. Those tests, which were completed in April, showed that the hairs belonged to Cook. The judge ruled that this evidence would not have impacted the outcome of the original trial, even though the jury was not given the opportunity to consider it. Bartee’s attorneys argue that additional evidence from the crime scene, including cigarette butts and drinking glasses, has not been tested.
To date this year, the State of Texas has executed 5 people, out of 18 executions nationwide. There currently are 7 executions scheduled between now and the end of the year.
We are so grateful to everyone who took action on this case by sending appeals, signing the petition developed by NCADP, writing letters to the editor, and sharing information with your networks.
Thank you for your support and commitment to ending the use of the death penalty. Please stay tuned for new developments in this case as they become available, and join our efforts to seize the momentum for abolition!