Under the measure, defendants who have active psychotic symptoms of certain mental illnesses at the time of the crime would be ineligible for capital punishment. The bill now heads to the more conservative Senate.
Johnson was convicted in the 2007 murders of Maria Aparece and Huy Ngo in Harris County, a crime he committed at 18. He was set for execution Thursday before a court ruled that his new lawyer should have more time to look into federal appellate issues.
The lower chamber gave initial approval to a bill creating a pretrial process to determine if a capital murder defendant is intellectually disabled — more than 15 years after the U.S. Supreme Court said executing such prisoners is cruel and unusual punishment.
As the state put the 70-year-old to death, his son banged on the death chamber window. After an altercation with law enforcement, Coble's son and another relative were removed from the witness room and arrested.
Nearly two decades after the U.S. Supreme Court said it was unconstitutional to execute those with intellectual disabilities, Texas still has no process on determining the condition — leaving life-and-death decisions in the hands of courts with very different methods.
The state put to death 13 men this year. That's more than half the total number of people executed in the entire country: 25. Still, the death row population — both here and nationwide — is at a historic low.