Execution Stay Linked to Other Death Row Appeal

By: Joe Brown Email
By: Joe Brown Email

Condemned killer Derrick Sonnier owes his life to a fellow death row inmate. Now the fate of both depends on a decision pending before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

Sonnier was set to be executed Tuesday, the first inmate to be put to death in Texas in 2008. But 90 minutes before his execution, Sonnier was granted a stay based on the case of death row inmate Heliberto Chi.

Chi was convicted of murdering an Arlington clothing store manager during a 2001 robbery. He was set to be executed last October, but his attorneys won a stay by arguing that lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment.

The same argument was used by Sonnier's attorneys. Since Chi's case has not been ruled on, a stay was also granted for Sonnier who murdered a mom and her 2-year old son in Humble.

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