Death sentence reversed after 45 years
HOUSTON — An appeals court has overturned the sentence of Texas’ longest-serving death-row inmate, whose attorneys say has languished in prison for more than 45 years because he’s too mentally ill to be executed.
Raymond Riles’ “death sentence can no longer stand” because the 70-year-old inmate’s history of mental illness was not properly considered by jurors, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled Wednesday.
The decision means Riles’ case will be sent back to a Houston courtroom for resentencing.
He was sent to death row in 1976 for fatally shooting John Thomas Henry in 1974 at a Houston car lot after a disagreement over a vehicle. A co-defendant, Herbert Washington, also was sentenced to death, but his sentence was overturned, and he later pleaded guilty to two related charges and was sentenced to 50 and 25 years in prison.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg did not challenge the effort to overturn the death sentence.
Ogg’s office declined to comment on whether prosecutors again will pursue a death sentence in Riles’ case.
Jim Marcus, one of Riles’ attorneys, said he thinks Riles most likely will be resentenced 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,” he said.