The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has stayed the execution of Robert Jennings. Scheduled to be executed on September 14, 2016, Jennings has spent more than 25 years on death row for the murder of a Houston vice officer in 1988. The court offered no reason for stopping the punishment, saying only that it should be halted “pending further order of this court.” ABC News reports:
Attorneys for Jennings are questioning in an appeal before the court whether jury instructions during the punishment phase of his trial were proper, arguing jurors couldn’t adequately consider Jennings’ remorse about the killing when they were deliberating punishment. At the time of his trial in 1989, rules covering capital trials were evolving in the state and federal courts.
This is the fourth stay granted by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals since August 11, 2016. Recently, Casey Tolan of Fusion reported on the drop in executions and increase of stays:
It’s been 148 days since Texas executed someone—a remarkable lull in the use of the death penalty for a state that has killed far more people than any other.
In the nearly five months since Pablo Vasquez was killed by lethal injection on April 6, execution after execution in the state has been canceled. In fact, there hasn’t been a gap between Texas executions this long since June 2008, according to state records.
In the article, Kristin Houlé TCADP Executive Director explains, “Cases that would have historically been given a green light with just a cursory glance are now being given more scrutiny.”
At this time, there are three executions scheduled to take place in Texas through November 2016.