Lawyers for a mentally ill Texas death row inmate who gouged out his eyes are asking for clemency on his behalf. The layers say, Andre Thomas, 39, will never be smart enough to be executed on April 5.
They, along with more than 100 faith leaders and dozens of mental health professionals, have asked the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Gov. Greg Abbott to change his sentence to life in prison or give him a reprieve so that the courts can decide if he is smart enough to be executed.
The Associated Press reported that attorney Maurie Levin said, “Gov. Abbott has the power to stop the spectacle of prison guards leading a blind, mentally incompetent delusional man to the death chamber.”
Thomas started hearing voices when he was nine years old and tried to kill himself for the first time when he was ten. In 2004, in Sherman, Texas, he killed his 20-year-old ex-wife Laura Christine Boren, their 4-year-old son Andre Lee, and her 13-month-old daughter Lehya Marie Hughes.
He also cut out the hearts of the two children. He later told the police that God told him to kill them and that he thought they were all demons.
Thomas was given the death penalty for killing the little girl. The jury didn’t believe his claim that he was insane, and prosecutors said that he knew what he did was wrong and that his drug use worsened his mental illness.
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Thomas has spent the last 15 years in a prison south of Houston, home to the most mentally ill people in the state. Since the murders, he has cut out his eyes. His lawyers said he ate one of his eyes so the government couldn’t hear his thoughts.
Authorities say that Thomas’ victims and their families shouldn’t be forgotten and put to death if he is competent.
“A jury has spoken about what justice should be in this case. We are not going to ignore that,” said J. Kerye Ashmore, with the Grayson County District Attorney’s Office, which prosecuted the case.
Thomas’s lawyers have said that his trial was unfair because people who said they didn’t like mixed-race marriage were allowed to serve on the jury. Thomas is black, and his wife was white before they got divorced.
His lawyers must file a court motion asking for a review of his competency, but a judge will ultimately decide the issue.
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