For a Texas inmate who murdered his pregnant ex-girlfriend and her 7-year-old son more than 17 years ago, courts on Wednesday rejected claims of religious freedom violations and indifference to his medical needs.
Stephen Barbee, 55, was given a lethal injection at the state prison in Huntsville. He was pronounced dead at 7:35 p.m. He was convicted in the February 2005 deaths of 34-year-old Lisa Underwood and her son, Jayden. Both suffocated at their home in Fort Worth. He was later found buried in a shallow grave in nearby Denton County.
Prosecutors said that Barbee killed his ex-girlfriend and their son because he did not want his wife to know that Underwood was seven months pregnant, possibly by him. DNA evidence later showed that Barbee was not the father. Underwood owned a Fort Worth bagel shop, which was named after his son. She and her son were reported missing after failing to show up at a baby shower.
Barbee confessed to police that he had killed Underwood and his son, but later retracted. Barbee said the confession was coerced. He has since maintained his innocence, saying that he was framed by his business partner.
His trial, including sentencing in February 2006, took less than three days.
The US Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected an appeal by Barbie’s lawyers to stay the execution.
Barbie’s lawyers asked the US Supreme Court to stay her execution, arguing that her religious rights were being violated because the state prison system, in the wake of a decision by the High Court onWhile in the execution room, there was no written policy on this issue.
In March, the US Supreme Court said states must accommodate the wishes of death row inmates who want to keep their faith leaders, Texas prison officials did not formally update their policy, but said they would review inmate petitions on a case-by-case basis and grant the most reasonable requests.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge Kenneth Hoyt in Houston issued a preliminary injunction, saying the state could execute Barbie only if she published a clear policy on spiritual advisors that protects an inmate’s religious rights. Does Last week, the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Hoyt’s injunction, saying it was too broad. The appeals court held that the Supreme Court did not require, but merely recommend, that states create written policies on the issue.
On Tuesday, Hoyt issued a new injunction focused specifically on protecting Barbie’s rights. On Wednesday, the 5th Circuit also overturned this injunction.
The Texas attorney general’s office said in a previous court filing that Barbie’s claims were false, as state prison officials are allowing her spiritual advisor to touch her and pray aloud during her execution.
Also Tuesday, Hoyt rejected a separate request by Barbee’s attorneys that cruel and unusual punishment would violate a prisoner’s right to escape. Her lawyers say that Barbie has physical constraints that limit the movement of her shoulders and arms, and that she would experience “intolerable pain and suffering” if executed in the normal way. Deliver lethal injection.
In a court filing earlier this month, attorneys for the Texas attorney general’s office assured Hoyt that prison officials would make accommodations for Barbie and allow her arms to remain bent and to place IV lines if necessary. Will find the place.
On Monday, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously refused to commute Barbee’s death sentence to a reduced sentence or to commute four months.
Barbie was given the lethal injection on the same dayFor the murder of two people during a home robbery in Phoenix on New Year’s Eve of 1980. Hooper received a lethal injection on Wednesday morning.
The death penalty is carried out across all political parties, despite declining support in recent years. Nearly 6 in 10 Americans favor the death penalty, according to the General Social Survey, a major trends poll conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. While the majority continue to express support for the death penalty, the share has declined steadily since the late 1990s, when nearly three-quarters were in favor.
Barbee was the fifth inmate to be executed in Texas this year. He was the last prisoner scheduled for execution this year in the state.
So far, 15 people, including Barbie, have been executed by lethal injection across the United States in 2022. The total number of executions in the US this year is already higher than last year’s three-decade low of 11.
Two more executions in the US are scheduled for Thursday – one in Alabama and one in Oklahoma.