Late in the day on Friday, December 2, 2016, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) issued a stay of execution for John Battaglia. Battaglia was scheduled to be put to death on December 7, 2016. He was convicted of the 2001 murders of his two daughters, Faith and Liberty, ages 9 and 6, in Dallas County.
Earlier this year, on March 30th, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay to Battaglia just hours before his execution in order to give his attorneys more time to develop claims their client may be mentally incompetent for execution. A competency hearing took place in Dallas in November.
Despite expert testimony from three psychologists who evaluated Battaglia and determined he is not fit to be executed based on a delusional disorder, State District Judge Robert Burns ruled on November 18th that Battaglia has enough understanding of his case and his impending execution to be considered mentally competent.
The order from the CCA states that “After reviewing the record, this Court has determined that full briefing on the appeal is warranted in this case.” Briefs on the competency issue are due within 60 days of the order. Battaglia’s execution is stayed pending further order from the Court.
No more executions are scheduled to take place in Texas in 2016. Texas will end the year with the fewest executions in two decades.
There are eight execution dates on the schedule for 2017.