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'Express lane to death': Texas seeks approval to speed up death penalty appeals, execute more quickly

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Texas is seeking to speed up executions with a renewed request to opt-in to a federal law that would shorten the legal process and limit appeals options for death-sentenced prisoners.
Defense attorneys worry it would lead to the execution of innocent people and - if it's applied retroactively, as Texas is requesting - it could potentially end ongoing appeals for a number of death row prisoners and make them eligible for execution dates.
"Opt-in would speed up the death penalty treadmill exponentially," said Kathryn Kase, an longtime defense attorney and former executive director of Texas Defender Services.
But a state attorney general spokeswoman framed the request to the Justice Department as a necessary way to avoid "stressful delays" and cut down on the "excessive costs" of lengthy federal court proceedings.
Robbie Kaplan, co-founder of the #TimesUp movement, says sweeping changes to laws in recent years have dissuaded attorneys from taking on har…

Killer at Dallas-area Subway store holdup set to die in May; Man Found Incompetent for Trial in Houston Deputy's Death

Texas Death Chamber
Texas Death Chamber
A 42-year-old man sent to death row for a fatal shooting during a Dallas-area sandwich shop robbery in 2002 has received an execution date.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice spokesman Jason Clark said Tuesday convicted killer Terry Darnell Edwards is scheduled for lethal injection May 11. 

The U.S. Supreme Court in November refused to review his case.

Edwards was convicted of killing 26-year-old Mickell Goodwin at a Balch Springs Subway store where she worked. 

The store manager, 34-year-old Tommy Walker, also was gunned down.

Evidence showed Edwards had been fired from the sandwich store a few weeks before the July 2002 shootings. About $3,000 was taken in the holdup.

Edwards is among 10 inmates scheduled for execution in the coming months in Texas, the nation's most active death penalty state.

Source: Associated Press, Feb. 9, 2016


Man Found Incompetent for Trial in Houston Deputy's Death

A Houston man accused of fatally shooting a sheriff's deputy at a gas station last summer has been ruled mentally incompetent to stand trial for capital murder.

State District Judge Susan Brown ordered 31-year-old Shannon Miles be sent to a mental hospital. 

After four months of medication and treatment, his competency will be re-evaluated.

Harris County prosecutors Tuesday didn't dispute arguments from Miles' lawyers that he's schizophrenic and doesn't understand the seriousness of the legal proceedings.

Miles is a charged in the Aug. 28 slaying of Harris County Deputy Darren Goforth. 

The deputy was shot 15 times while putting gasoline in his patrol car. If convicted, Miles could face the death penalty.

Records show Miles has been committed to mental health facilities at least twice in recent years.

Source: Associated Press, Feb. 9, 2016

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