Federal judge stays execution of Dexter Johnson

On Tuesday, April 30, 2019, a federal judge stayed the execution of Dexter Johnson after determining his newly-appointed lawyer needed more time to review the case and investigate any undeveloped claims. Johnson was scheduled to be put to death by the State of Texas on May 2 for the murders of Maria Aparece and Huy Ngo in Harris County in 2006.  He was 18 at the time of the crime.

According to Jolie McCollough with the Texas Tribune, Johnson asked a federal judge to appoint a new lawyer in January. He claimed his long-time attorney, Pat McCann, had not explained what was going on in his case and had a conflict of interest. In early February, U.S. District Judge Alfred Bennett appointed a federal public defender to his case to “make a thorough, and independent, assessment of whether unpresented claims remain.” McCann remained on the case, as well.

Read more about the stay from the Texas Tribune. According to Keri Blakinger with the Houston Chronicle, the Attorney General will not appeal the judge’s order.

In August 2018, Johnson lost a federal appeal in which he had asked for a new trial based on inadequate legal representation and “a lengthy history of mental disability and psychotic breaks.”

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied Johnson’s request for a stay of execution based on his claim of intellectual disability on Monday, April 29, and on Tuesday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously rejected his application for clemency.

Johnson is the fourth Texan to receive a stay of execution this year. The State has executed three people and two executions are scheduled for later this year (one in August and one in September).