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Why Texas’ ‘death penalty capital of the world’ stopped executing people

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Since the Supreme Court legalized capital punishment in 1976, Harris County, Texas, has executed 126 people. That's more executions than every individual state in the union, barring Texas itself.
Harris County's executions account for 23 percent of the 545 people Texas has executed. On the national level, the state alone is responsible for more than a third of the 1,465 people put to death in the United States since 1976.
In 2017, however, the county known as the "death penalty capital of the world" and the "buckle of the American death belt" executed and sentenced to death a remarkable number of people: zero.
This is the first time since 1985 that Harris County did not execute any of its death row inmates, and the third year in a row it did not sentence anyone to capital punishment either.
The remarkable statistic reflects a shift the nation is seeing as a whole.
“The practices that the Harris County District Attorney’s Office is following are also signifi…

Texas: Dad who killed girls has new execution date

John Battaglia
John Battaglia
John Battaglia - the man who murdered his young daughters out of revenge while their mother listened over the phone - has a new execution date.

State District Judge Robert Burns scheduled the execution for Dec. 7.

That doesn't necessarly mean the lethal dose of drugs will be administered inside the state's death chamber in Huntsville. A federal court has ordered a hearing to look into Battaglia's claims of mental incompetency. The execution date had to be set before the hearing could take place.

Battaglia, now 61, was scheduled to be executed in March but won a last-minute stay from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals so his lawyer could pursue the incompetency claims.

No date has been set for the hearing in Burns' court.

Battaglia was sentenced to death for killing Faith, 9, and Liberty, 6, at his Deep Ellum loft in May 2001. He arranged a call with his ex-wife, who listened on the phone as the older girl begged: "No, Daddy! Don't do it!"

He later headed to a nearby tattoo parlor to have 2 red roses etched on his arm in memory of the girls. That night, he recorded a message on their answering machine: "Good night, my little babies. I hope you are resing in a different place. I love you."

Psychiatrists testified for the defense at his trial that Battaglia suffered from bipolar disorder. An adult daughter from his 1st marriage later said he was also diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, characterized by manipulative behavior, a hyper-inflated sense of self-importance and lack of empathy.

Christine Womble, an appellate attorney at the Dallas County's district attorney's office, has said she's "confident" of Battaglia's guilt and his competency.

One of Battaglia's attorneys, Gregory Gardner, argued in court documents that Battaglia has long "exhibited bizarre behavior consistent with severe mental illness."

In a 2014 interview with The Dallas Morning News, Battaglia said he was "a little bit in the blank" about what happened to Faith and Liberty.

"I don't feel like I killed them," he said.

He called his daughters his "best little friends," just the "nicest little kids" imaginable, and said he doesn't grieve for them beacuse they remain with him.

"Why would I worry about where they are now?" he asked. "We're all here, we're all gone at the same time. I'm not worried about it."

Source: Dallas Morning News, August 16, 2016

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