Texas’s longest convict on death row sentenced

Houston (AP) —The Court of Appeals overturned Texas’s longest convict on death row. His lawyer says he has been in prison for over 45 years because he is so mentally ill that he cannot be sentenced to death.

Raymond Lyles “The death penalty is no longer tolerable.” The Texas Criminal Appeals Court ruled Wednesday because the jury did not properly consider the psychotic history of the 70-year-old prisoner.

This decision means that Liles’ proceedings will be sent back to the Houston court for retrial.

He was sent to death row in 1976 for the fatal shooting of John Thomas Henry at a car dealership in Houston in 1974 following a disagreement over the vehicle. Co-defendant Herb Washington was also sentenced to death, but his sentence was overturned and he was later convicted of two related offenses and sentenced to 50 and 25 years in prison.

When Liles was brought to justice, state law did not expect the jury to consider reducing evidence of mental illness or the like when deciding whether to sentence someone to death. The US Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that Texas law on jury instructions was unconstitutional because it did not recognize intellectual disability or mental illness as easing evidence during the punishment phase of a capital murder trial.

However, Riles remained in legal trouble because it had no legal representative for decades and the lower courts were unable to enforce the Supreme Court’s decision until at least 2007. The lawyer said Thursday.

Inmates like Liles said, “Because their judgment is a death row sentence, they are on death row, but because they are mentally ill, they cannot do it. In Texas, it is It means that people suffer in the Polansky death row cell (the location of the death row cell in Texas), where the condition is basically cell confinement, “Marcus said.

Prosecutors claimed he was not mentally ill in Liles’ trial, but some psychiatrists and psychologists testified that he was suffering from mental illness and suffering from schizophrenia. Liles’ brother testified that his “spirit is not as normal as others.” He doesn’t think like anyone else. “

“All parties (now) agree that he is mentally ill. Texas has treated him that way for 45 years when he was on death row,” he said. Thea Posel, an assistant professor of law at the University of Texas at Austin and another Riles lawyer, said.

Harris County lawyer Kim Ogg did not object to his efforts to overturn the death penalty.

“We are pleased that the Texas Supreme (Criminal) Court has agreed with prosecutors and lawyers that the jury must be able to consider the history of the defendant’s mental health before deciding on punishment.” Ogg said on Thursday.

Ogg’s office refused to comment on whether the prosecutor would sentence him to death again in Liles’ case.

Marcus said he believes Liles is likely to be resentful of life imprisonment.

“This is a very difficult case for Harris County to pursue further, because Mr. Liles is very ill mentally and he does not seem to be able to withstand the trial,” he said. Said.

If he resents life imprisonment, he is likely to be released, but the final decision will be made by the Texas Board of Paroles, Marcus said.

According to the Death Penalty Information Center, the Supreme Court has banned the death penalty for persons with intellectual disabilities, but not for individuals with severe mental illness.

In 2019, the Texas State Parliament considered a bill banning the death penalty for people with severe mental illness. The legislation was not passed.

States that execute more prisoners than any other state during most years have not executed the death penalty since July 2020.


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