Update, 9/29/21: The State of Texas executed Rick Rhoades last night after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to issue a stay. Rhoades’ attorneys had sought juror information that might have called into question the fairness of his 1992 trial. Rhoades is the third person put to death in Texas this year. Four more executions are scheduled in 2021.
Original post, 9/28/21: Barring a last-minute intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court, the State of Texas is scheduled to execute Rick Allan Rhoades this evening, September 28, 2021. Rhoades was convicted and sentenced to death in Harris County in October 1992 for the murders of Charles and Bradley Allen. During his 1992 trial, the State elicited testimony that is now known to be false. It also may have removed two potential jurors because of their race, which is expressly prohibited by the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1986 opinion in Batson v. Kentucky.
Attorneys for Rhoades filed a federal 1983 complaint arguing that Rhoades has been denied of his right to seek access to materials he needs to develop his Batson claim, namely jury questionnaires and cards that are in the possession of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office. These materials are necessary to conduct a thorough comparison between the jurors who were allowed to serve on the jury and those who were struck by the State.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal judge’s decision to dismiss the federal lawsuit. Attorneys for Rhoades have now filed a motion for a stay of execution with the U.S. Supreme Court. Read more about the lawsuit from the Associated Press.
If the execution proceeds, Rhoades will be the first person convicted in Harris County to be put to death since January 2019. Harris County accounts for more executions (129) than any state except Texas. More than one-third of the 199 individuals currently on death row were convicted in Harris County.
The State of Texas has executed two people in 2021 and is scheduled to execute four more people this year. Only Texas and the federal government have carried out executions so far in 2021.