[Deathpenalty]death penalty news----TEXAS
rhalperi at mail.smu.edu
Thu Sep 15 18:25:35 CDT 2005
TEXAS----stay of impending execution
Riley's scheduled execution halted for hearing
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Thursday stopped the scheduled
execution next week of convicted killer Michael Riley so a hearing can be
held on claims that he's mentally retarded.
Riley, 47, was set for lethal injection Sept. 22 for the robbery and fatal
stabbing of a convenience store clerk in Wood County in far northeast
Texas more than 19 years ago.
The U.S. Supreme Court has barred the execution of mentally retarded
The appeals court order asks the trial court in Wood County to conduct an
evidentiary hearing to investigate the claims filed by Riley's lawyer.
Riley was convicted and sentenced to death in 1986 but the Court of
Criminal Appeals in 1991 overturned the conviction because a potential
juror was dismissed improperly. He was tried again in 1995, pleading
guilty to the slaying of Wynona Harris, a clerk at a store in Quitman. His
lawyers urged jurors to sentence him to life but prosecutors won a death
At his first trial, Riley's lawyer submitted into evidence a 1973
evaluation from the Terrell State Hospital where Riley, then a teenager,
was found to have an IQ of 67. An IQ of 70 is considered the threshold for
Riley, who did construction work, blamed the loss of money at a dice game
for his February 1986 attack on Harris, 23. She was stabbed 23 times and
robbed of $970 she was counting as he walked by.
He turned himself in to police a few hours after the slaying.
"I have no hate," he told The Associated Press last week from death row
outside Livingston. "I was wrong for what I did.... I'm going to die by
execution or die by life sentence. If a choice, I'd take execution. Here,
it gets kind of old.
"I wouldn't want a life sentence but you just have to deal with it."
When arrested for the Harris killing, Riley was on probation for forgery
and for writing a bad check. He had a 9-year prison term in 1980 for
burglary but was paroled 3 years later. He had an earlier prison stint for
burglary, plus arrests and jail time in Wood County for burglary, public
intoxication, assault and theft.
Texas has executed 13 convicted killers this year, including Frances
Newton, whose lethal injection Wednesday for the slayings of her husband
and two young children 18 years ago made her only the third woman executed
in the state since capital punishment resumed in Texas in 1982.
3 Texas inmates have execution dates in October. Another 6 are scheduled
to die in November.
(source: Associated Press)
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