Execution Delayed For Texas Inmate Who Gouged Out Both Eyes

  • A Texas judge has withdrawn the April 5 execution date for Andre Thomas, a death row inmate whose attorneys say is not competent to be executed.
  • Thomas was sentenced to death after fatally stabbing his estranged wife and two children in 2004.
  • His attorneys say Thomas gouged out both of his eyes as a result of his severe mental illness.
  • Dozens of Texas mental health professionals and faith leaders have filed letters of support for the petition.
  • Grayson County District Attorney's Office says those calling for clemency are not fully informed of the case.

The upcoming execution date for a Texas death row inmate—whose attorneys say gouged out both of his eyes because of severe mental illness—has been withdrawn by a judge.

Andre Thomas, 39, had been scheduled for execution on April 5 but State Judge Jim Fallon on Tuesday issued an order withdrawing the execution date after Thomas' attorneys asked for time to prepare for a court hearing on his competency. Fallon ordered Thomas' attorneys to file their argument on or before July 5.

The court's order gives them "the time necessary to make the threshold showing that his lifelong, profound mental illness, characterized by fixed auditory and visual hallucinations, distorts everything he says, thinks, and does and he is not competent for execution," Thomas' attorney Maurie Levin said in a statement provided to Newsweek.

The Supreme Court has ruled that a person must be competent to be executed.

Andre Thomas
This combined image shows convicted murderer Andre Thomas. A judge has withdrawn the April 5 execution date for death row inmate Thomas, who has been described as "one of the most mentally ill prisoners in Texas history." Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Thomas "is one of the most mentally ill prisoners in Texas history," Levin said.

"He has endured a profound and lifelong mental illness that fundamentally distorts his perception of reality and causes incessant auditory and visual hallucinations," he added.

"We are confident that when we present the evidence of Mr. Thomas's incompetence, the court will agree that executing him would violate the Constitution," Levin said.

"Guiding this blind psychotic man to the gurney for execution offends our sense of humanity and serves no legitimate purpose," he said. "Mr. Thomas will remain confined, as he has been, and the public will be kept safe."

Thomas was sent to death row after fatally stabbing his estranged wife Laura Christine Boren, 20, their 4-year-old son Andre Lee and her 1-year-old daughter Leyha Marie Hughes in March 2004. He cut out the hearts of the two children, then tried to take his own life before turning himself into the police.

He confessed to the killings and told police that God had told him to carry them out, and that he believed all three were demons.

He was found guilty in the youngest child's death, which carries an automatic death sentence, The Texas Tribune reported.

Thomas' attorneys say he used his own fingers to gouge out his right eye while sitting in a jail cell five days after the murders.

They said that three years after arriving on death row, he gouged out his left eye, again with his own fingers, and ate it because he wanted to prevent the government from hearing his thoughts.

In February, Thomas' attorneys filed a clemency petition asking Texas Gov. Greg Abbott and the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles to commute his sentence to life in prison or to grant a reprieve to allow courts to determine whether Thomas is competent for execution.

Dozens of Texas mental health professionals and more than 100 Texas faith leaders filed letters supporting Thomas' clemency petition.

J. Kerye Ashmore, with the Grayson County District Attorney's Office, which prosecuted the case, told The Associated Press that those calling for clemency for Thomas are not fully informed about the case and have not read any reports or evaluations about his mental state.

"None of these people know anything about the case. They are parroting what the defense has told them," Ashmore said.

Ashmore added that he has reviewed records that would seem to indicate Thomas knew about his execution date and that he is aware that he is in prison because he killed his estranged wife and her children.