The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has paused the execution of a death row inmate, who was scheduled to be killed next month. The execution was halted after defense lawyers cast doubt on the validity of the testimonies given by two witnesses.
Julius Murphy, who was scheduled to be executed on Nov. 3, will now have a little bit more breathing room to try and escape his death sentence. The man was sentenced to death after being convicted of fatally shooting another person in the head in a 1997 robbery.
Defense Counsel Says 2 Witnesses Gave False Testimony
According to Murphy's lawyers, new evidence has been revealed that the prosecution forced a major witness to give false testimony in order to secure the man's conviction. In fact, defense counsel is arguing that Murphy's death sentence was obtained via "prosecutorial misconduct."
The Texas Attorney General's Office, which has previously maintained that Murphy was appropriately convicted, was not available to comment on the decision to delay the execution.
Allegedly Witnesses Were Coerced
Defense attorneys claim that the two witnesses who gave false testimony were key in the conviction of their client. The defense has obtained sworn statements from the witnesses to prove that they were unlawfully coerced into testifying against their client, and that the testimonies were false.
According to defense counsel, one of the key witnesses was told he would be hit with a murder charge unless he testified against Murphy. The other witness was allegedly threatened with being charged with conspiracy to commit homicide charges if she did not agree to testify in the case. Defense lawyers also claim that Murphy did not fire the weapon that killed the victim, but one of the co-defendants in the murder case did.
Murphy's lawyers have tried but failed to get him released from death row by claiming that he was mentally disabled.
Since 1976, when the death penalty was reinstated by the U.S. supreme Court, among all the states, Texas has committed the most executions.
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