Last evening was the date the State of Texas had chosen to kill Anthony Bartee, who was convicted in 1996 of the murder of David Cook. Last evening the State of Texas was denied its bloodlust when the Fifth Circuit refused to lift a stay of execution from a federal district judge.
Mr. Bartee filed suit against the Bexar County District Attorney's Office under Section 1983, alleging that the District Attorney violated his civil rights by withholding crime scene evidence that could have been tested for DNA. A federal district judge granted the stay based on the lawsuit. The State appealed the stay to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals arguing that granting the stay would reward Mr. Bartee for filing a last minute suit in an attempt to put off his execution date.
The Fifth Circuit refused to lift the stay asking for more information regarding the claims made by both parties.
Mr. Bartee filed the civil rights lawsuit after his writ requests for additional DNA testing were denied. Those requests were denied, in part, because Mr. Bartee had already admitted being at the crime scene so any DNA evidence wouldn't exonerate him, it would just show that other people had been at the crime scene at some point in time.
Last night's events are a win for those of us fighting to abolish the death penalty - but it is likely to be but a temporary reprieve.