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Friday, March 27, 2015 - 11:34am

ETX man on death row loses appeal, execution will go on as planned

ETX man on death row loses appeal, execution will go on as planned
Office of Greg Abbott

POSTED: Monday, January 12, 2015 - 2:03pm

UPDATED: Monday, January 12, 2015 - 2:09pm

Randall Wayne Mays was denied his latest challenge to his conviction by the United States Supreme Court today, bringing him one step closer to execution for the 2007 murders of Sheriff’s Deputies Paul Habelt and Tony Ogburn. Kevin Harris was also seriously wounded in the gunfire from Mays.

The Court denied his petition for writ of certiorari without any other language. His denial was included amongst a list of many others. According to Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee, a party who wants the Supreme Court to review a decision of a federal or state court files a "petition for writ of certiorari" in the Supreme Court. If the Court grants the petition, the case is scheduled for the filing of briefs and for oral argument. A minimum of four of the nine Justices is required to grant a writ of certiorari.

Judge Carter Tarrance, who presided over the trial, signed an execution order and death warrant on July 10th of last year, setting Mays’ execution date for March 18th, 2015 after the United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals refused to grant Mays a Certificate of Appealability.

As soon as McKee received notice that the Fifth denied his Certificate of Appealability, his office filed a motion to set an execution date.” McKee indicated that the March 2015 date was the first available date provided to him from TDCJ through the Texas AGs Office.

The United States Supreme Court refused to grant a review of Mays’ appeal in October of 2011 and the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas denied his Federal writ of habeas corpus in December of 2013.

Mays’ latest legal challenge to his conviction involved a lawsuit against the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in Federal court last December in an attempt to gain what's known as a Certificate of Appealability (COA) for his case. The suit was partly based on assertions that Mays is mentally handicapped, therefore, the State of Texas should not be allowed to execute him.

The United States Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that prior cases establish a precedent that the mentally handicapped do not receive an absolute constitutional protection from death penalty laws. The judges denied his request for a COA as a result. The Supreme Court has now refused to review that decision.

This is the second execution date set for Mays. Texas law mandates that a court cannot set an execution date until the convict has exhausted his State Appeals and State writ of habeas corpus.

In May 2011, the District Attorney’s Office filed a motion to set the execution date before Mays filed his Federal writ of habeas corpus. Although his defense team fought the motion, the Court set the date for August 23rd, 2011.

McKee indicated that he was pleased to see the Supreme Court deny Mays’ writ. “My staff and I are committed to continuing the hard work of former D.A. Donna Bennett and her team in seeking justice for not only the families of Paul Habelt, Tony Ogburn and Kevin Harris, but of the entire law enforcement community.” “Today’s news brings us one step closer.”

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