U.S. Supreme Court opinion contributes to overturning of case

Across the United States, the views on and adoption of capital punishment may vary greatly. Exactly half of the nation’s states, 25, have a currently active death penalty law and process in effect, including Texas and all of its Southern neighbors according to DeathPenaltyInfo.org. Adjacent New Mexico on the west side is one of 21 states without a death penalty. Oregon, California, Wyoming and Pennsylvania have moratoriums on their death penalties in place. 

One thing important to note is that not every person sentenced to death in Texas or in any other state may necessarily end up being executed. NBC Dallas Fort Worth recently reported on the case of one man who was given a death sentence in Texas in 2016, a sentence that today has been overturned. The case dates back seven years when the defendant was accused and convicted of the capital murder of five people, two of whom were relatives. The man was known at the time to have an intellectual disability. 

In Texas, a person convicted of capital murder may either be sentenced to life in prison or to death. The man in the 2013 case was sentenced to death in 2016 by a court in Texas. The sentencing did adhere to the guidelines in place at that time. However, in the following year, the United States Supreme Court amended the guidelines for sentencing a person with an intellectual disability to death. 

In light of the new guidelines set forth at the federal level, the highest criminal court in Texas reviewed the man’s 2016 sentence and overturned it.