He’s Too Mentally Ill To Execute. Why Is He Still On Death Row After 45 Years?

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has tossed the death sentence of Raymond Riles, who’s spent 45 years on death row, The Texas Tribune reports. Riles, Texas’ longest-serving death row inmate, has repeatedly been deemed too mentally ill to be executed, but his sentence wasn’t overturned until Wednesday, when the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals decided that a jury should have been told to consider his mental health in determining his punishment. Riles still faces a charge of capital murder, and his sentence will now be reevaluated by Harris County. “It’s clearly established under Texas and [U.S.] Supreme Court law that Mr. Riles’ death sentence is unconstitutional,” said Riles’ attorney, Thea Posel.

Riles was first convicted of murder in 1974, after he fatally shot John Thomas Henry, according to court records. At the time, Riles claimed insanity, and multiple family members testified that he had a long history of mental illness. However, doctors who testified for the prosecution argued that he was faking, and was not actually mentally ill.

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