A Texas court Tuesday postponed inmate Andre Thomas’ execution date to allow his legal team to prove that he is not competent to be executed.
After confessing to a triple murder in 2004, Thomas gouged his eyes out and claimed divine direction for his crimes. Thomas has been considered “seriously mentally ill” since the incident. Further, after committing the crime, Thomas went home and stabbed himself in the chest three times. Maurie Levin, an attorney for Thomas, said “The [c]ourt was right to follow the Constitution by withdrawing Andre Thomas’ execution date.”
The US Supreme Court has ruled in the past that those who are intellectually disabled cannot be executed, but it has not set clear limitations on when a mentally ill inmate can be executed. The American Psychiatric Association and the American Bar Association have both called for a ban on executions for those who are mentally ill.
Because of their concerns about Thomas’ mental health, his lawyers have submitted a request for clemency, alleging that “Andre Thomas is one of the most mentally ill prisoners in Texas history.”
Thomas had murdered his female partner and their two children, a daughter and a son, in 2004. Five days after the murder, Thomas followed the direction of Christ in Matthew 5:29, “if the right eye offends thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee,” by literally plucking out his right eye. After he was sentenced to death, he gouged out his second eye and ate it, claiming that this would stop the Government from “hearing his thoughts”.
Thomas also has a significant history of mental illness, having endured “significant delusions and hallucinations,” since he was 10 years old. Mental health professionals have joined together to urge clemency in Thomas’ case. Further, a petition has also been submitted by 12 Texan religious leaders of various faiths.
Texas is one of the few states that follows a strong trend of executions despite a significant decline across the country. Texas also has a series of executions planned for the beginning of 2023, with two inmates already scheduled to be executed before Thomas.