A Texas Court of Criminal Appeals judge has again stopped the scheduled execution of Robert Lynn Pruett, convicted in the 1999 stabbing death of a state correctional officer. Pruett’s scheduled execution in 2015 was also halted at the last minute so that DNA testing could be conducted on tape covering the handle of a knife used in the murder.
Judge Lawrence Meyers, a member of the appeals court, granted his request for another stay on Thursday, ruling that Pruett’s execution should be halted “pending further order of this Court.”
Pruett had been scheduled for execution on Aug. 23.
According to court documents, Pruett fatally stabbed state Department of Criminal Justice correctional officer Daniel Nagle. Pruett, convicted of capital murder in 2002, insists he was framed for the slaying. A criminal appeals court judge granted Pruett’s request for additional DNA testing just hours before the scheduled execution last year.
The testing was inconclusive and failed to exonerate Pruett, according to court documents. He appealed that finding early this year, disputing the conclusion that it was “not reasonably probable” that he would have escaped conviction with the new DNA test results available at the time of the trial.
When he granted Pruett’s request for the DNA testing last year, Judge Bert Richardson expressed some skepticism, suggesting that it was likely a tactic to delay the execution.
“The court has no doubt the request for the proposed DNA testing was made to delay the execution of sentence,” Richardson wrote in 2015. “However, at this point, although such delay tactics appear to be unreasonable, it is not clear that they, in fact, are unreasonable. Although unlikely, it is not impossible to conceive that there could be exculpatory results.”
Meyers did not indicate in his two-page ruling on Thursday when the court would issue a further order.
A Criminal Appeals Court judge on Thursday also dismissed two writs of habeas corpus Pruett filed in 2016, asserting that he was innocent and accusing the state of making undisclosed deals with witnesses and depending on false testimony and forensic evidence.