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Univ. of San Diego School of Law

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals Blocks an Execution on Grounds of Unclear Jury Instructions

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stopped the execution of Steven K. Staley, 42, which was scheduled for March 23.  He was granted reprieve five hours before he would have been executed, on the grounds that the jurors in his 1991 trial were given unclear instructions regarding whether they had to recommend Staley for the death penalty.  Staley was convicted for the 1989 killing of a restaurant manager in Forth Worth, TX; the killing was part of a robbery gone wrong.  Staley committed the crimes while on the lam from a Denver halfway house.  In other attempts to stop the execution, Staley's defense team argued to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans that Staley shouldn't be executed until his mental competency was fully reviewed in court.  According to the defense's expert, even Staley may have met the Supreme Court's standards that 1) he was aware that he was going to be put to death and 2) why he was going to be put to death, he is still psychotic--Staley claims that he invented the 1969 Chevrolet Impala and that he works part-time as a secret agent. The TX Court of Criminal Appeals sent Staley's case back to the trial court. More... [Mark Godsey]

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