Killer on death row for 45 years won’t be executed as he’s ‘too mentally ill’

A prisoner who spent 45 years awaiting his execution on death row will no longer be killed.

Raymond Riles was put behind bars in 1976 after he brutally shot and killed John Thomas Henry following a row over a vehicle.

But the 70-year-old's sentence to death can 'no longer stand' because jurors did not properly consider his history of mental illness, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said.

Now Riles, Texas' longest serving inmate on death row, will be sent back to court for re-sentencing in Houston.

Psychologists and psychiatrists in defence of Riles say he was psychotic and had schizophrenia at the time of the killing.

Riles' own brother even told the court: "His mind is not normal like other people. He is not thinking like other people."

Despite several dates set for execution, the murderer has repeatedly been seen as too mentally incompetent to be killed.

During his time in prison he set himself on fire and was hospitalised for months, reports The Texas Tribune.

But prosecutors insisted he was not mentally ill.

Jim Marcus, one of Riles' lawyers, said inmates such as his client are "housed on death row because their judgement is a sentence of death, but it can't be carried out because they're too mentally ill."

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He continued: "In Texas, that means people are left to languish in the Polunsky Unit (the location of Texas' death row), where the conditions are basically solitary confinement."

An accomplice of Riles, Herbert Washington, was also sentenced to death for the crime but his sentence was later overturned.

Top Judge Kim Ogg, Harris County District Attorney, did not try to fight against the death sentence being overturned.

She said: "We are glad Texas' highest (criminal) court agreed with prosecutors and defence lawyers that jurors must be able to consider a defendant's mental health history before deciding punishment."

It is most likely Riley will be re-sentenced to life in prison.

"This would be a very difficult case for Harris County to pursue further because Mr Riles is so mentally ill, that it's unlikely he would be found competent to stand trial," Jim Marcus said.

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