Monday, April 3, 2017
WASHINGTON — A Harris County jury took 12 minutes to decide Carlos Ayestas should die for murdering a 67-year-old Houston woman during a 1995 robbery in her home.
Nearly 20 years after his 1997 trial, the 47-year-old Honduran man will get another chance to get off death row, with the U.S. Supreme Court deciding Monday to hear his case alleging inadequate counsel.
Ayestas’ appeal was rejected a year ago by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, leaving in place a death sentence for his role with two other men in taping, beating and strangling Santiaga Pareque during a home invasion robbery.
His attorneys have argued that his trial lawyers overlooked drug and mental health problems and were deficient for failing to bring his relatives from Honduras to testify on his behalf. They also questioned whether prosecutors improperly sought to use his status as a foreign national in seeking the death penalty.
The Supreme Court’s decision to hear Ayestas’ case comes after two recent rulings sending Texas death penalty cases back to lower courts for review.
One involved Duane Buck, who was sentenced to die after his trial attorney elicited testimony from a psychologist saying that he was at “increased risk for future dangerousness” because his is black.
They also ruled for Bobby Moore, a Texas death row inmate who, his lawyers argued, was intellectually disabled according to modern medical standards. The Moore case also invalidated Texas’ antiquated method for evaluating inmates’ intellectual fitness for the death penalty.