In Texas, the state’s top criminal appeals court stayed the execution of inmate William Speer, 49, less than five hours before his scheduled execution, the Associated Press reports. Speer was convicted of strangling another inmate, Gary Dickerson, in July 1997 at the Telford state prison in northeast Texas. The victim’s sister and religious leaders had asked authorities to spare Speer’s life.
Though prosecutors deny the claims in Speer’s legal filings with the Texas Court of Appeals, his attorneys charge that prosecutors at his 2001 trial failed to disclose evidence, presented false testimony and that his trial lawyers failed to present evidence about Speer’s childhood abuse. Prosecutors deny those allegations. In an earlier claim, which was denied by the court, Speer’s attorneys also claimed that the state’s supply of pentobarbital, the drug used in executions, was exposed to extreme heat during an August fire at a state prison, making it unsafe.