Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stays the execution of John Hummel

Today, March 16, 2020, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (“CCA”) granted a 60-day stay of execution “on its own motion” to John Hummel, who was scheduled to be put to death on Wednesday, March 18, 2020. The order came about an hour after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously rejected Hummel’s application for the commutation of his death sentence to a lesser penalty or a 120-day reprieve. The court determined that his execution should be delayed “in light of the current health crisis and the enormous resources needed to address that emergency.”

Hummel’s attorney filed an emergency supplement to a motion for a stay of execution on Friday, March 13, in which he asked the CCA for a stay of execution due to the COVID-19/Coronavirus Pandemic. The motion noted that Texas Governor Greg Abbott has declared a “state of disaster” and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has suspended visitation at all facilities statewide until further notice. It also argued that carrying out Hummel’s execution may itself assist in spreading COVID-19/Coronavirus, given the extensive number of people typically involved in the execution process.

The State’s response, filed by the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office, called the emergency supplemental motion for a stay “untimely” and urged the court to “reject Hummel’s current request for a stay based on speculation given that, at this time, COVID-19 has raised no roadblock to his lawful execution.” Read more about the state’s response.

Hummel was convicted of capital murder in Tarrant County in June 2011.  A jury found that on or about December 17, 2009, during the same criminal transaction, he killed Joy Hummel and Clyde Bedford.  Hummel lived with his pregnant wife Joy, their five-year-old daughter Jodi, and Joy’s father, Clyde Bedford. 

Hummel, who is an honorably discharged Marine, had no history of violence prior to the terrible night of December 17, 2009.  He has behaved well in jail and prison since the time of his arrest. In his clemency application, he sought to persuade the Board and Governor Abbott that the evidence does not support the jury’s finding of “future dangerousness.”

Read more about his case and today’s stay of execution from the following outlets:

Texas Tribune: https://www.texastribune.org/2020/03/16/coronavirus-results-texas-court-stop-john-hummels-execution/

Austin Chronicle: https://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2020-03-13/death-watch-defense-to-d-a-a-conflict-of-interest/