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Texas inmate asking US Supreme Court to keep him alive

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AP Huntsville (US)
A Texas death row inmate looked to the US Supreme Court to keep him from being executed today for the 1999 slaying of his ex-girlfriend while he already was on parole for killing his estranged wife.

William Rayford, 64, would be the nation's second inmate executed this year if his lethal injection is carried out this evening.

He was convicted in the beating, stabbing and strangling death of 44-year-old Carol Lynn Thomas Hall.

Hall's body was found about 300 feet inside a drainage pipe behind her home in the Oak Cliff area of Dallas. Her 11- year-old son also was stabbed in the attack but survived, and he testified against Rayford.

Rayford's lawyers had two appeals before the high court to halt the execution, which was scheduled for 6 pm CST but could be delayed until up to midnight when the death warrant would expire.

They argued that his death sentence was tainted because his trail attorney in 2000 improperly introduced the subject of race as a factor in prison violence while questioning a prison expert during the punishment phase.

Nadia Wood, a Dallas-based federal public defender, told the high court that in bringing it up, the trial lawyer implied "that people like Mr. Rayford, a black man, are the cause of the violence."

An assistant Texas attorney general, Jefferson Clendenin, disputed the argument, telling the justices that the witness never testified as an expert in rates of violence because he wasn't qualified to do so. Clendenin said none of the witness' trial testimony "even implied that African-Americans are more likely than others to be violent or that Rayford himself was a future danger."

In a second appeal to the justices late this afternoon after it was denied by the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals, attorneys argued a federal district judge improperly denied money for his lawyers to hire a forensics expert to examine whether Hall's slaying may not have qualified for a capital murder charge.

They also said Rayford suffered brain damage from lead poisoning because he grew up near a toxic site and carried lead residue from old gunshot wounds.

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First Published: Jan 31 2018 | 6:20 AM IST

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