A Texas man who slaughtered his pregnant ex-girlfriend and son is set to die by lethal injection on Wednesday night – as he launches a last-minute bid to delay the execution.
Stephen Dale Barbee, 55, was sentenced in 2006 of the February 2005 murders of his ex, Lisa Underwood, and her 7-year-old son.
He initially confessed to the shocking killings but later retracted his confession, insisting he only helped co-defendant Ronald Royce Dodd hide the bodies after they died.
Barbee, who was due to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. Wednesday, is begging the U.S. Supreme Court to stop his execution for violating religious freedom.
Lawyers for the convicted murderer argued that Barbee’s religious rights were being violated because the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) did not have a clear written policy on what spiritual counselors could do in the chamber. execution – despite a High Court ruling earlier this year.
The March ruling says states must respond to requests from death row inmates for their religious advisers to pray and touch them during their executions.
At the time, the TDCJ said it would not update its original policy, but would consider related petitions on a case-by-case basis.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt issued a preliminary injunction saying Texas could only execute Barbee after updating “a clear policy” in accordance with the Supreme Court’s ruling.
“The TDCJ now operates an unwritten policy that prison officials can unilaterally decide whether or not to allow accommodation requested by an inmate…accommodation can be withdrawn at the will or whim of any prison official. jail at the last moment,” Hoyt’s decision read.
Federal appeals judges overturned Hoyt’s decision last Friday on the grounds that it was too broad. Hoyt then issued a second ruling on Tuesday, this time clarifying that the advisory only applied to Barbee.
“[TDCJ] can only proceed with the execution of Stephen Barbee after publishing a clear policy approved by its governing body that (1) protects Stephen Barbee’s religious rights in the execution chamber…and (2) sets out any exceptions to this policy, describing in greater detail precisely what these exceptions are or may be,” reads the new injunction.
The Texas Attorney General’s Office is appealing Hoyt’s decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit, the Texas Tribune reported. The 5th Circuit must issue a ruling before the case can go to the Supreme Court.
Also on Tuesday, Hoyt denied a concurrent request by Barbee’s attorneys to halt his execution on the grounds that he would suffer extreme physical pain if tied to the stretcher typically used in Texas executions.
In the application, Barbee’s attorneys argued that his ongoing mobility issues, which require him to use a wheelchair, would render him unable to straighten his arms to receive the IV for the lethal injection.
Hoyt dismissed the case Tuesday afternoon, saying the prison warden had already stipulated that Barbee would be housed in the execution chamber.
Pending a court ruling, Barbee will be the fifth inmate to be executed in Texas in 2022. He is the latest inmate to die by lethal injection in the state this year.
With post wires