Appeals Court Says Confessed Killer Not Mentally Retarded

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A convicted murderer has lost an attempt to avoid the death chamber.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled yesterday that Elroy Chester is not mentally retarded.

Chester was condemned for fatally shooting a Port Arthur fireman nine years ago.

The 37-year-old confessed to the slayings of at least four other people during a six-month crime spree. He pleaded guilty to killing Willie Ryman the third, who was trying to keep Chester from raping his two nieces at their Port Arthur home.

A Jefferson County jury in 1998 took just 12 minutes to decide Chester should be put to death.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 2002 barred the execution of mentally retarded people, and a federal judge that year ruled the trial court never determined whether Chester was retarded. A federal appeals court in 2003 refused to rule on Chester's appeal until all state appeals were exhausted.