Update (12:49 p.m.)
According to reports from the Texas Tribune, Balentine’s execution has been reinstated by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, overruling Potter County District Court Judge Steven Denney’s order that recalled Balentine’s execution date.
According to Balentine’s legal team, the team is now asking the U.S. Supreme Court to stay the execution, claiming that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals did not address “newly discovered evidence” of “racial bias and other serious misconduct” that allegedly impacted the jury’s deliberations in his case.
AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — According to an order filed Tuesday in Potter County District Court, Steven Denney has denied 54-year-old John Balentine’s motion to withdraw his execution date based on Balentine’s allegations surrounding the drugs used in executions.
According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, Balentine’s legal team filed a motion on Jan. 25, claiming that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice could not carry out his Feb. 8 execution in accordance with state law by using expired Pentobarbital. Balentine was convicted of shooting three teens in Amarillo in January 1998.
Balentine alleged that expired Pentobarbital, a drug some states use for capital punishment and used by veterinarians for euthanasia and anesthesia, could cause “severe harm or unpredictable drug actions.”
“On this date came on to be considered Defendant John Lezell Balentine’s Motion to Withdraw the Execution Date, based upon the allegation that the Texas Department of Criminal Justice intends to use expired Pentobarbital to execute him,” Denney’s order reads. “The court having found insufficient grounds therefore, the motion is denied.”
This specific order comes after Denney ordered in late January that Balentine’s execution date had been recalled because Balentine’s legal team was not properly notified of Balentine’s warrant of execution and execution date. According to previous reports, the order read that two specific portions of the code, laying out the timeline of when certain execution-related orders and documents should be produced, were violated.
In response to this order, the state argued that the order was a “hyper-technical construction” of the statutes found in the code and that Denney “improperly conflated” the outlined requirements.
“With its order recalling the execution date and warrant of execution,” according to previous reports, “the Court went beyond Balentine’s pleading. Beyond that, the order flowed from a faulty premise… Balentine’s motion is legally unfounded.”
As of Feb. 4, when the TDCJ’s website was last updated, Balentine’s execution was still scheduled for Wednesday. Officials with the TDCJ said on Tuesday they plan to still move forward with it “even though it is in limbo.”
It is not clear as of this report if the previously-issued recall, related to the notification timing, is still in effect and will impact whether or not the execution will occur at 6 p.m. Wednesday.