A Texas court has stopped a second execution because of the new coronavirus that has swept through the state and world.
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay Thursday for next Wednesday’s scheduled execution of Tracy Beatty, a 59-year-old man convicted more than 15 years ago of killing his mother. Earlier this week, the same court halted the execution planned Wednesday for John Hummel for the same reason.
“We have determined that the execution should be stayed at the present time in light of the current health crisis and the enormous resources needed to address that emergency,” the court said in the order Thursday.
The court’s stay lasts for 60 days, after which a new execution date can be set.
Beatty’s attorney filed a motion to halt his upcoming execution shortly after the court stayed Hummel’s execution Monday, citing the “unprecedented proportions” of the pandemic. The virus has killed thousands of people worldwide, including at least three in Texas. As of Wednesday at noon, at least 95 people in the state had tested positive for the new coronavirus, a number that is undoubtedly lower than the total infected since testing is still largely unavailable.
As in Hummel’s case, prosecutors were opposed to stopping the execution, however. Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman said in a filing that COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus discovered in December 2019, has not been shown to impact the state’s ability to carry out an execution.
“There has been no evidence that the ‘enormous resources needed to address that emergency’ will also include the handful of TDCJ personnel who will carry out Beatty's execution,” he wrote.
Seven other executions are scheduled in Texas through September, with two set in April.