A judge has delayed the execution of a man who killed three teenagers in their sleep in a Texas home.
John Balentine, 54, was scheduled to be executed by lethal injection at a state prison in Huntsville on February 8. Balentine was convicted of murdering three teenagers, Edward Mark Caylor, 17, Steven Watson, 15, and Kai Brooke Geyer, also 15. The crime occurred in January 1998 while they slept in their Amarillo home.
Six months after the shootings, Balentine was arrested in Houston. Evidence indicated that all three victims were shot in the head while they slept. Records also show that Balentine used to live in the same house and that Caylor was a brother of Balentine’s former girlfriend. Prosecutors claimed that the shootings came as a result of a disagreement between Balentine and Caylor.
State District Judge Steven Denny in Potter County withdrew Balentine’s execution date on Tuesday, as reported by NBC5 DFW. He chose to withdraw the date because Balentine’s attorneys were not properly notified about the execution and warrant. Under Texas law, each of these is required before an inmate can be executed.
On Wednesday, Denny denied the prosecutors’ request to reconsider and instead told them that the execution will take place once the legal guidelines are followed.
Balentine is one of five death row inmates in Texas involved in a lawsuit around the state’s prison system. They are hoping to stop the system due to claims that unsafe and expired execution drugs are being used.
Despite the lawsuit, two executions have still occurred in Texas. Robert Fratta was executed on January 10, and Wesley Ruiz was executed on Wednesday night, per ABC7 News. Prison officials say the drugs they use for executions are safe.
The next execution in Texas is currently scheduled for March 7, with five more planned for the rest of the year.
How can a drug utilized for an execution be considered unsafe? Isn’t causing death the desired outcome from administering these drugs?