Man Scheduled to Get Texas' Last Available Lethal Injection Given Reprieve

The killer of two Henderson County law enforcement officers will not be executed by Texas as scheduled on Wednesday.

Randall Wayne Mays, 55, was set to die by lethal injection before the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals gave him a stay of execution, agreeing with Mays' attorneys that more time is needed to determine if Mays was mentally competent to be executed. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that executing someone who is not aware of why he or she is being executed or that his or her execution is imminent violates the Eighth Amendment.

The stay is good news for Mays, and East Texan convicted of killing Henderson County Sheriff's Office Investigator Paul Steven Habelt and Deputy Tony Price Ogburn during a 2007 shootout. It's less good news for Kent William Sprouse, the next man up on Texas' death row, convicted of killing a Ferris police officer and another man in 2002.

Mays would have received the executioner's last dose of pentobarbital, the sedative that's the primary ingredient in Texas' lethal cocktail. Pentobarbital has become increasingly difficult to acquire over the past few years as drug makers have become wary of its being used in executions. Oklahoma, unable to acquire pentobarbital, used another sedative, midazolam, to execute Clayton Lockett. Lockett's execution was botched so badly -- it took him 36 minutes to die -- that Oklahoma canceled a second execution set for the same night. Sprouse is scheduled to be killed on April 9.

The state has not yet determined what it will do when it runs out of pentobarbital.

"We're exploring all options, including the continued use of pentobarbital as well as other possible drugs," Jason Clark, with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice , told The Dallas Morning News. "At this time I can't speculate on the future use of drugs."

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young