intellectual disabilities Stay of execution Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Stay of execution for Edward Busby

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA) has granted a stay of execution to Edward Busby based on his claim of intellectual disability.  The Court’s order sends the case back to the trial court for a review on the merits.  

The State of Texas had been scheduled to put Busby to death on February 10, 2021; it would have been the state’s first execution since last summer.  It was the second execution date Busby has faced in the past year.  The week before his scheduled execution on May 6, 2020, the CCA granted a 60-day stay based on the public health emergency.  Busby was convicted of robbing and killing 77-year-old Laura Lee Crane in Fort Worth in 2004. 

Busby is the second person this year and the seventh since 2017 to receive a stay based on evidence of intellectual disability. That year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Moore v. Texas that the state must use current, medical standards for determining whether a person is intellectually disabled and therefore exempt from execution. The Moore decision has required courts in Texas to reconsider previous claims of intellectual disability in light of these new standards.

Since disaster declarations were instituted on March 13, 2020, the State of Texas has carried out one execution, putting Billy Joe Wardlow to death on July 8, 2020.  All other execution dates have been stayed or withdrawn as COVID-19 continues to ravage our communities and corrections system.  Prison visitation has been prohibited since March 2020, making it extremely difficult for attorneys to thoroughly prepare or pursue the litigation required when their clients face imminent execution.  There currently are four executions on the schedule through June, including two other individuals who were convicted in Tarrant County.