Texas Executes Its Eighth Inmate This Year

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (CN) — Texas executed a black man Tuesday night for shooting to death and robbing a convenience store owner in 2004, despite pleas from the victim’s son to spare his life.

Christopher Anthony Young, a 34-year-old father of three teenage girls, stopped moving 30 seconds after he was injected with pentobarbital and was pronounced dead around 6:30 p.m.

Young was the eighth person Texas has executed this year, all with overdoses of pentobarbital, a sedative. The state has eight more executions scheduled for 2018.

Since the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a moratorium on the death penalty in the 1970s, Texas has put to death far more inmates than any other state.

Young shot Hashmukh Patel in November 2004 at Patel’s corner store in San Antonio. Surveillance cameras recorded the shooting and a Bexar County jury sentenced Young to death in March 2006.

In a lawsuit Young’s attorneys filed Friday in Houston Federal Court, they accused the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles of denying his clemency petition because he is black.

They said the board voted to commute white prisoner Thomas Whitaker’s death sentence in February after Whitaker’s father, who was shot in the chest in 2003 by a hitman Whitaker hired to kill his family, lobbied for clemency for the last surviving member of his immediate family.

Governor Greg Abbott commuted Whitaker’s sentence, reducing it to life in prison.

Young claimed that only racism could explain why the board denied his clemency petition because his victim’s son, Mitesh Patel, also urged Texas to spare his life.

Patel said he did not want Young’s daughters to grow up without a father.

But U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison dismissed Young’s lawsuit with prejudice Tuesday morning after a Monday hearing in which where Texas state attorneys said that Fifth Circuit and U.S. Supreme Court precedent have established that clemency is the sole realm of the executive branch, and not the business of the courts.

During that hearing, Ellison said the Fifth Circuit would not approve Young’s motion to stay his execution, because he did not think Young’s attorneys could clear the high hurdle of showing he was likely to succeed on the merits of his 14th Amendment claim that the board had discriminated against him on the basis of race.

Young appealed to the Fifth Circuit. A unanimous three-judge panel of the court affirmed dismissal, writing: “Young has not made a strong showing that if we were to temporarily stay the execution and allow discovery, he would find evidence of discrimination.”

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