Three executions were stayed today. One execution was set to take place tonight in Virginia, but was stopped by the U.S. Supreme Court. Two other executions that were scheduled to take place soon in Texas were also stayed. So, we seem to have it confirmed that we are in the midst of a national moratorium on executions.
The only things that could break the moratorium are if an inmate drops all appeals, if a state tries to execute someone by a method other than lethal injection or if Sharon Keller lies her way onto death row and starts executing people on her own. The Houston Chronicle has said that Keller has “abdicated her role as the state’s chief criminal justice to become its chief executioner”, so as long as we keep an eye on Keller, there should be no more executions in the U.S. until after the Supreme Court decides the Baze case on lethal injection.
More on today’s stays from the Houston Chronicle:
In the nation’s most active death penalty state, two November executions have been halted because of pending capital punishment issues before the courts.
On Tuesday a federal judge in Sherman stopped the Nov. 6 execution of Allen Bridgers, whose attorneys claim he is mentally retarded. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that mentally retarded people cannot be executed.
In another case, a judge in Fort Worth stopped the Nov. 27 execution of Dale Devon Scheanette following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to consider the legality of lethal injection.
“The U.S. is clearly in what amounts to a de-facto death penalty moratorium,” said Bridgers’ attorney David Dow, who runs the Texas Innocence Network out of the University of Houston Law Center.
As an inmate was spared execution Wednesday in Virginia, the U.S. is headed toward the lowest number of executions since the mid-1990s. So far this year, 42 people have been executed, including 26 in Texas.