In Texas, the court postponed the execution of the offender because of the coronavirus
The Texas Criminal Appeals Court has postponed the death penalty of 60-year-old John Hammel for 44 days. In 2009, he killed his pregnant wife, beat his five-year-old daughter and father-in-law to death, and then set fire to the house to hide the traces of the crime. Hummel dealt with family members to live with his mistress. In 2011, he was sentenced to death. Writes about it Meduza.
Hammel was to be executed on March 17. However, the court decided that the execution should be postponed “in the light of the current health crisis and the enormous resources needed to deal with this emergency.”
According to the latest data in Texas, 134 cases of coronavirus were detected, in the entire United States - 7 323 cases.
Hammel's lawyer Michael Moule insisted on the transfer of execution. He made several arguments: witnesses and prison staff will be present at the execution, and if one of them is infected with the coronavirus, he will infect the others; if, due to an infection, one of the prison staff trained to carry out the death sentences has to be commuted, the execution may be improperly executed; Hummel will not have time to see relatives before death, because due to the coronavirus visits in prison are prohibited.
Tarrant County Attorney, who has indicted Hammel, and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, which manages state prisons, have been opposed to deferring execution. The department emphasized that it introduced additional checks for staff and visitors to prisons to reduce the risk of the spread of coronavirus. However, the court did not heed these arguments.
The execution of Hammel's sentence was postponed until mid-May 2020. Prior to this, five more executions are planned in Texas. Whether the death sentences will be carried out on time is unknown.
Lawyer for convict Tracy Beatty, who strangled his mother and is awaiting execution on March 25, said he would also file a motion to delay the execution of the death sentence.
In Texas, executions had previously been carried out due to emergency situations. In his application, Hammel’s lawyer Michael Moula mentioned two such cases. In 2001, the Texas governor deferred the execution of his death sentence on September 30 for 11 days. In 2017, the court postponed the execution of a criminal for three months, whose lawyer lived in the county affected by Hurricane Harvey.
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