Houston, Texas — A judge has, next week, delayed the execution of a man convicted of killing three teens while they slept in a home in the Texas Panhandle more than 25 years ago.
John Ballentine, 54, was scheduled to receive a lethal injection at the state prison in Huntsville on February 8.
He was convicted in January 1998 of the shooting of Edward Mark Caylor, 17, Kay Brock Geyer, 15, and Stephen Watson, also 15, at a home in Amarillo. Caylor was the brother of Ballentine’s ex-girlfriend and prosecutors said the shooting was the result of an argument between Caylor and Ballentine.
Ballentine was arrested in Houston six months after the murder. Evidence at trial showed that the three victims were shot once in the head while they slept in the small house where the Ballentines once lived.
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On Tuesday, Potter County State Judge Stephen Denny withdrew Ballentine’s execution date and order because the prisoner’s attorneys were not properly notified of the execution date and order for the lethal injection setting. This notification is required by state law.
On Wednesday, Denny denied a request from prosecutors to reconsider his order. The judge asked the plaintiffs to reset enforcement as soon as practicable with proper notice to Ballentine’s counsel.
Ballentine’s attorneys alleged that racial prejudice and other misconduct affected the jury’s deliberations at his trial. Balentine black.
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Balentine is also one of five death row inmates in Texas who are part of a lawsuit seeking to block the state’s prison system from using what they claim are expired and unsafe death drugs. Although an Austin civil court judge initially approved the allegations, the state’s two highest courts allowed the executions of two prisoners who were part of the lawsuit on Jan. 10 and on Wednesday.
Prison officials deny the lawsuit’s allegations and say the state’s supply of execution drugs is safe.
Six more executions are scheduled in Texas later this year, including the next one on March 7.
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