Texas has executed its fifth prisoner this year by lethal injection after failed appeals, including one at the last-minute to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Lawyers representing the inmate, 46-year-old TaiChin Preyor of Texas who was convicted of killing a San Antonio woman in 2004, argued his execution should be stayed on the grounds that his previous legal team gave him insufficient and fraudulent representation when he began his appeals process, unfairly hindering his case.
Preyor's most-recent lawyers say one of his post-conviction attorneys, Brandy Estelle, had no experience in death penalty law, evidenced in part by her inclusion of the Wikipedia entry on "Capital Punishment in Texas" in research files. They also point to the fact that another lawyer, Philip Jefferson, who was unofficially assisting Estelle on the case, had been disbarred years earlier.
Preyor's attorneys also say his previous legal team presented his upbringing as idyllic, when in fact he had suffered serious physical and sexual abuse as a child, a detail which could have proved helpful in arguing against capital punishment.
The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was not swayed. In its opinion today the court wrote that Preyor was aware of everything in the recent motion to stay his execution for two years, but "still, he waited until two weeks before his execution to bring the motion."
NPR called the law offices of Estelle for comment but did not hear back before publication. Jefferson died after his involvement with Preyor's case.
Early in the morning of Feb. 26, 2004, Preyor entered the apartment of 24-year-old Jami Tackett, described as his drug dealer in court records. He attacked her boyfriend and then fatally stabbed Tackett and slit her throat, according to the Associated Press.
Preyor fled the scene but returned to retrieve his lost car keys, at which point police apprehended him.
As NPR's Debbie Elliott reported in April, executions have been on the decline nationally. Preyor is the 16th prisoner put to death nationally this year. The state of Texas is scheduled to execute at least six other inmates in the coming months, according to the AP.