Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stays execution of Stephen Barbee

On Monday, September 23, 2019, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) stopped the execution of Stephen Barbee in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in McCoy v. Louisiana (2018). The Justices ruled in McCoy that “a defendant has the right to insist that counsel refrain from admitting guilt, even when counsel’s experience-based view is that confessing guilt offers the defendant the best chance to avoid the death penalty.” During his trial, Barbee’s lawyers “complete[ly] surprise[d]” him with a concession of guilt.

According to the Texas Tribune, the CCA asked the prosecution and Barbee to file briefs within 30 days of Monday’s ruling to debate the issues raised in their latest filings on whether he qualifies for relief under the Supreme Court decision. 

Barbee, now 52, was scheduled to be executed on October 2, 2019. He was convicted of killing his pregnant ex-girlfriend, Lisa Underwood, and her 7-year-old son, Jayden, in 2005 in Tarrant County.

The State of Texas is scheduled to execute eight men by the end of the year, including Robert Sparks, who is scheduled to be put to death on Wednesday, September 25. It would be the third execution this month in Texas.