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Randall Mays Receives Stay of Execution: CCA rules Monday that Inmate Might be Too Insane to Die

by Chase Hoffberger Austin Chronicle Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Texas' Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay on the execution of 55-year-old Randall Mays Monday, citing questions concerning the death row inmate's mental competency. The state's Code of Criminal Procedure bars executions for those who don't understand why they're being killed (or that its occurrence has become imminent).

Mays, convicted in the May 2007 killing of Henderson County Deputy Sheriffs Tony Ogburn and Paul Habelt after a standoff on his property, has spent the past seven years watching attorneys fight for his life by acknowledging his long history of mental illness. Trial attorneys spoke to his chronic paranoia and pointed to his troubled past (he had one brother died of an overdose; in 1995, another died when he was executed by the state). But they in turn made little effort to obtain any zero neuropsychological examinations and couldn't dig up an excessive set of medical records that would point to certain illnesses. Appeals to the5th Circuit andU.S. Supreme Court have both been denied without reasoning.

Monday's stay, granted just two days before Mays was scheduled to be executed, comes on the heels of a last ditch effort by theOffice of Capital Writsto cast "substantial doubt" on the belief that Mays is mentally competent enough to be executed. OCW, which began representing Mays on Feb. 10, filed an appeal in the 392nd District Court of Henderson County on Feb. 24 citing past medical examinations of its client and two new expert testimonies from neuropsychologists James Underhill and Cecil Reynolds, but had its attempts denied on Feb. 27.

A March 2 appeal to the CCA came back on Monday in favor of the inmate; Texas' highest court will now give the case a deeper look before issuing an opinion or further order.

"Something got their attention," wrote OCW DirectorBrad Levenson. "Just don't know what yet."

Updated Sunday, February 19, 2017

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