Correction: Texas Execution-Appeal story

AP News
Posted: Jun 10, 2014 6:27 PM

HOUSTON (AP) — In a story June 9 about the Supreme Court's denial of an appeal for a Texas death row inmate, The Associated Press erroneously reported that the court rejected an appeal related to the state not disclosing the source of its lethal injection drugs. According to court documents, the appeal was related to questions about whether the inmate was mentally impaired.

A corrected version of the story is below:

Supreme Court declines inmate's impairment appeal

US Supreme Court declines to review mental impairment claim for spared Texas inmate


Associated Press

HOUSTON (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused an appeal from a Texas death row inmate whose attorneys argued that he was mentally impaired and therefore ineligible for the death penalty.

Robert James Campbell, 41, had avoided execution May 13 when the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stopped his punishment less than three hours before he could have been put to death. That court agreed to give Campbell's lawyers time to pursue the claims of mental impairment.

At the time of the reprieve, the U.S. Supreme Court was considering a separate appeal from Campbell's attorneys seeking the name of the company that provides the Texas Department of Criminal Justice with its lethal injection drugs. The high court has not ruled on that issue in Campbell's case.

Campbell was sentenced to death for the 1991 abduction, rape and slaying of a 20-year-old Houston bank teller, Alexandra Rendon.

The justices made no comment on the ruling, one of three Monday involving condemned Texas prisoners. But court documents show the ruling was on an appeal related to questions about whether the inmate was mentally impaired.

So far, the U.S. Supreme Court has not halted an executions based on a state's refusal to reveal its execution drug supplier. The secrecy argument also was used by lawyers ahead of a bungled execution in April in Oklahoma, though that inmate's collapsed veins, not the drug, have been cited as the likely culprit.

Death penalty states have been scrambling to find drugs after several manufacturers refused to sell their products for use in lethal injections.

Last month, the Texas attorney general's office, ruling in an open records case from attorneys for a death row inmate, said Texas can keep its execution drug supplier secret. The ruling cited arguments from law enforcement about suppliers facing serious danger if they are identified.

Texas law enforcement officials have refused to say what threats they have found, calling any details about them "law enforcement sensitive information" and refusing to say if any pharmacies were in danger or what the agency was doing to investigate.

Lawyers for death row inmates insist they need the information to verify the drugs' potency and to protect inmates from unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment.

In another case Monday, the Supreme Court refused to consider an appeal from a man sent to Texas death row for strangling and trying to rape a woman jogging near her Houston home nearly 17 years ago.

Arthur Lee Burton, 44, had appealed a lower court's rejection of his arguments that his admission to a prison sociologist that he killed Nancy Adleman, a 48-year-old mother of three, was improperly obtained. Burton's original sentence was thrown out by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. He received another death sentence at a new punishment trial in 2002. Burton also had argued his legal help at his trial and in earlier appeals was deficient.

In the third case, the high court upheld the murder conviction and death sentence given to Kwame Rockwell of Fort Worth for a 2010 convenience store holdup that left two men dead. Rockwell, now 38, was convicted in 2012 of the fatal shooting of Daniel Rojas, 22, a store clerk. Evidence showed a 70-year-old deliveryman, Jerry Burnett, also was fatally shot.

None of the three — Campbell, Burton or Rockwell — has an execution date.