A Texas judge has delayed the execution of the death row inmate, Anibal Canales Jr., who was convicted of the strangling death of fellow inmate Gary Dickerson in 1997.
Death row inmate Canales had been scheduled to be executed on March 29, but the state District Judge Bill Miller, in Bowie County, signed an order withdrawing Canales’ execution date. It happened after a request from both prosecutors and Canales’ lawyers asking for more time to investigate flaws in the criminal investigation and prosecution of the case.
The death row inmate Canales had been serving a 15-year sentence for aggravated sexual assault. He joined the Texas Mafia prison gang, which ordered him to kill Dickerson after believing that he had informed the authorities about tobacco they had tried to smuggle into the prison. According to Fox News, Canales’ attorneys argued that he was forced to do whatever the gang asked of him in exchange for their protection and that he was physically vulnerable due to prior heart attacks, which made him unable to refuse the gang’s orders.
At his trial, the lawyers of the death row inmate failed to present mitigating evidence about the circumstances that led him to participate in the killing, including his childhood, which was marked by sexual abuse, poverty, neglect, and homelessness.
In June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected Canales’ claims of having ineffective lawyers at his trial. However, Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissented, stating that there was a reasonable probability that the mitigating evidence that Canales’ lawyers failed to present would have led at least one juror to sentence him to life in prison instead of death.
This is the second execution in Texas that has been postponed in the last two weeks. On March 7, a judge withdrew the execution warrant for Andre Thomas, who had been set to receive a lethal injection on April 5 for fatally stabbing his estranged wife, their 4-year-old son, and her 13-month-old daughter in 2004. Thomas’ lawyers argued that he should not be executed because he is severely mentally ill and gouged out both of his eyes.