The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued an order Friday staying the execution of Tilon Carter, a Fort Worth man scheduled to be put to death Tuesday.
Carter, 37, was convicted for the robbery and 2004 slaying of James Tomlin, 89, a Bell Helicopter retiree.
Prosecutors said Carter and his girlfriend, Leketha Allen, went to Tomlin’s home to rob him and took $6,000. Allen was sentenced to 25 years.
The appeals court granted the stay by a 5-4 vote on the grounds that notice of the scheduled execution date arrived half a day late at a state office that sometimes works on death penalty appeals.
The trial court, the State, and even the Texas Legislature just got played.
Judge David Newell
The law gives the trial court two days to notify the attorney who is representing the Death Row inmate and the state Office of Capital and Forensic Writs. Resetting the execution date is the only remedy once notice is late, according to judges who concurred with the order.
Judges voting with the majority encouraged Texas lawmakers to change the law.
“The trial court, the State, and even the Texas Legislature just got played,” Judge David Newell wrote in his concurring opinion.
There is nothing to be gained by granting the stay.
Judge Kevin Yeary
Dissenting judges argued in their opinion that rescheduling the execution is not mandatory because the state is not representing Carter and Carter’s counsel received timely notice.
“There is nothing to be gained by granting the stay,” Judge Kevin Yeary wrote for the minority.
As a practical matter, the execution date will have to be reset, Carter’s appellate attorney, Robertson Norris, said Friday.
“It will not result in a commutation,” Norris said. “At most it will just delay his execution.”
Carter’s was one of two stays of execution issued in Texas last week. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late Wednesday rejected an appeal from the Texas attorney general’s office and has let stand the stay of execution granted to 32-year-old convicted killer John Henry Ramirez.
U.S. District Judge Nelva Gonzales Ramos on Tuesday halted Ramirez’s scheduled lethal injection, saying there wasn’t enough time to adequately review his request for a new attorney who wanted to file a clemency petition and investigate claims that his previous court-appointed lawyer was deficient.
Ramirez was convicted of killing 45-year-old Pablo Castro in 2004 outside the Corpus Christi convenience store where Castro worked. He was robbed of $1.25.
The state has executed two people this year: Terry Edwards, in a Dallas-area case, on Jan. 26, and Christopher Wilkins, in a Fort Worth case, on Jan. 11.
This report includes material from The Associated Press.