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Wednesday, June 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Texas Man’s Execution Stayed by Supreme Court

WASHINGTON (CN) - The Supreme Court late Thursday stayed the death sentence in store for a convicted cop killer, but it refused to intervene on behalf of a schizophrenic man on death row.

In one order, the court stayed the execution of Texas inmate Anthony Haynes pending determination of his writ of certiorari.

Texas was set to execute Haynes, 33, at 6 p.m. Thursday night for the May 1998 murder of off-duty Houston police Sgt. Kent Kincaid.

The officer had reportedly confronted Haynes at a traffic incident staged to rob motorists. Haynes was convicted of gunning Kincaid down as the officer's wife watched.

Thursday marked the second time that the Supreme Court has intervened in Haynes' case.

After the 5th Circuit had ordered a new trial for Haynes in 2008, the Supreme Court reversed and said the New Orleans-based judges had misinterpreted precedent.

Haynes had found brief habeas relief because the prosecutor at his trial struck a black juror based on her "somewhat humorous" demeanor.

On remand, the circuit denied relief to Haynes. A federal judge in Houston rejected Haynes' latest appeal earlier this month.

The Supreme Court's grant of stay will terminate automatically if it subsequently denies the inmate a writ of certiorari. If the court grants cert, the stay will end upon disposition of the case.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito said they would have denied the stay application.

They had no remarks on the second order Thursday, denying a stay of execution to Florida inmate John Ferguson.

Florida sentenced Ferguson to death for two cases in which he was convicted of eight total counts of first-degree murder. The first trial concerned murders that took place in Carol City, Fla., in July 1977. And the second trial involved January 1978 murders in Hialeah, Fla.

In Carol City, Ferguson had posed as a Florida Power and Light employee to enter the home of Margaret Wooden. While searching for guns and money with two accomplices, Ferguson tied up Wooden and seven of her friends who interrupted them. The men put Wooden and her boyfriend in the bedroom. She said she heard shots fired in the living room where the six others were held, and then the men shot her and her boyfriend, who died as a result.

Wooden escaped and got help. The police arrived to find six dead bodies, all bound and shot in the back of the head. Another of the victims, Johnnie Hall, survived.

When police caught up with Ferguson in April 1978, he also confessed to the January 1978 murders of a pair of 17-year-olds whose bodies were found in a wooded area after they had left a Youth-for-Christ meeting in Hialeah, Fla. Brian Glenfeld had been shot in the head, chest and arm. Belinda Worley was found several hundred yards away, naked and shot in the back of the head. An autopsy revealed that she had been raped.

The assailant had also robbed both victims of cash and jewelry.

Ferguson, 64, has found little success to date in appealing his murder convictions on the basis of insanity.

In a 2009 ruling, the 11th Circuit affirmed the denial of habeas relief while noting a series of claims that Ferguson said his attorneys had failed to consider at trial: "that he was raised in extreme poverty and had no running water or electricity at times; that he had an alcoholic father who died when Ferguson was thirteen years old, that he had to deal with his mother's abusive boyfriends; and that, at age twenty-one, he was shot four times and almost killed by a police officer. He also asserts that he repeatedly was diagnosed as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, was placed in multiple mental hospitals during the late 1960s and early 1970s, was twice found not guilty by reason of insanity, and was examined by multiple doctors in the years preceding the Carol City and Hialeah murders, all of whom diagnosed him as schizophrenic, psychotic, or hallucinating."

Justice Stephen Breyer said he would have granted the stay, and Chief Justice John Roberts did not participate in the consideration or decision of the application.

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