Bobby Moore's Supreme Court case changed how Texas defines intellectual disabilities. After 40 years in prison, he's just been granted parole.
Moore was resentenced from the death penalty to life in prison last year after the U.S. Supreme Court determined he was intellectually disabled. Since he had already served 40 years, he was immediately eligible for parole.
The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted in favor ofBobby Moore's release once a review and audit of his discharge paperwork is completed,chair David Gutiérrez said in an email obtained by The Texas Tribune to a bipartisan group of state lawmakers who advocated for hisrelease.
Moore was originally sentenced to death 40 years ago, after he fatally shot a 73-year-old clerk during a Houston robbery. But hiscase pinged back and forth from Texas courts to the U.S. Supreme Court since 2017, setting new standards for how Texas determines intellectual disability in death penalty cases.
The high court twice slammed Texas' method for determining the disability, which relied on decades-old medical standards and a controversial set of factors created by judges. Several men, including Moore, have since been taken off of death row after courts determined — under the new criteria formed — that they were intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for the death penalty.
Moore was sentenced to death in 1980, before the punishment of life in prison without the possibility of parole was enacted and prisoners with life sentences were eligible for parole after 20 years. Because of that, he became eligible for parole when he was resentenced to life in November. Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg supported the change of sentence, but a spokesperson said Monday the office did not weigh in on the parole decision.
"Mr. Moore has been improperly denied both numerous parole reviews and the chance to meet some of the criteria that would weigh in his favor at them," the lawmakers said in their letter. "That is wrong, and while we will continue to work towards legislative solutions to the issues that led us here, you have the opportunity to act right now — to step in where the legislature has failed to step up."
Last year, a bill with bipartisan support inspired by Moore's case did not make it out of the Texas Legislature. The bill, authored by state Rep. Senfronia Thompson, a Houston Democrat who is also a part of the caucus, was originally written to allow capital murder defendants to request pretrial hearings to determine if they are intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for the death penalty.
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