A federal appeals court has stayed the Texas execution of a convicted rapist and murderer, saying that his defense team should have more time to make their case that Campbell is intellectually disabled.
Robert James Campbell’s execution had been scheduled for Tuesday. It would have been the first execution in the United States since a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma left an inmate writhing in pain before death.
His defense team now will have more time to appeal his death sentence.
“It is regrettable that we are now reviewing evidence of intellectual disability at the eleventh hour before Campbell’s scheduled execution. However, from the record before us, it appears that we cannot fault Campbell or his attorneys, present or past, for the delay,” justices from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit said in their opinion.
A neuropsychologist had diagnosed Campbell with “mild mental retardation.” His attorneys say that makes him ineligible for the death penalty. But Texas prosecutors say their efforts are a last-ditch effort to stop execution and not a valid claim.