Tuesday, December 09, 2003


Texas Postpones Execution Due to Appeal

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) -State authorities postponed the execution of a man scheduled to die Tuesday for fatally shooting a grocery store owner during a botched robbery attempt almost 11 years ago.

The execution of Billy Frank Vickers was delayed after an appeal to a federal appeals court was not resolved in time, said Michelle Lyons, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

``It's our common practice to wait until a court rules before proceeding with an execution,'' Lyons said just after midnight Tuesday.

A lawsuit filed on behalf of Vickers and the two other Texas inmates who were facing execution this week sought a permanent injunction against use of pancuronium bromide, a drug that paralyzes muscles and is one of the three chemicals used in the procedure.

The drug's use allows pain and constitutes an unconstitutional cruel and unusual punishment, according to the lawsuit.

The case was dismissed Monday by a federal judge in Houston but went to the federal appeals courts.

It's the first time in 21 years in Texas that a death warrant expired and a death penalty case was left unresolved on an execution day.