Convicted Texas killer gets stay of execution

Reuters News
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Posted: May 02, 2012 11:03 PM
Convicted Texas killer gets stay of execution

By Karen Brooks

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A Texas man won a stay of execution on Wednesday for the second time this year, just hours before he was set to die for the killing of a man authorities say was targeted for his Harley Davidson motorcycle.

Anthony Bartee, 55, was set to die by lethal injection on Wednesday evening for the 1996 robbery and killing of David Cook, according to a report by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

On Wednesday afternoon, a U.S. district judge in San Antonio stayed his execution after Bartee' attorneys filed a civil lawsuit against the Bexar County district attorney demanding more DNA tests on crime scene evidence.

An appeal by Bexar County prosecutors went to the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which told officials Wednesday evening that it would not be ruling immediately - guaranteeing that Bartee would not be executed before midnight and keeping the stay in place. A new date will have to be set for the execution.

When officials at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice told Bartee that he had won a stay, he thanked his legal team and supporters for their support.

"Put peace in your heart. God is working through all of us," he said, according to department spokesman Jason Clark.

On August 17, 1996, Cook's body was found in his home with two bullet wounds and several stab wounds, and his cherry red motorcycle and gun were missing, the report says. His own gun was used to kill him, according to the report.

Two days before Cook's body was found, Bartee, a convicted rapist on parole when the killing happened, allegedly approached several people about helping him kill the victim and take his motorcycle and credit cards, according to Abbott's report.

The night the body was found, Bartee showed up at a friend's house on a motorcycle similar to Cook's and also claimed to have a gun, the report said.

Bartee won an execution delay in February to allow for DNA testing of evidence in the case.

Texas has executed five inmates this year after putting to death 13 in 2011. The state has executed more than four times as many people as any other state since the United States reinstated the death penalty in 1976, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

(Editing by Greg McCune and Paul Simao)