The Latest: Texas won’t appeal execution halt


HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — The Latest on Texas Execution (all times local):

12:40 p.m.

The Texas Attorney General’s Office is not appealing a federal appeals court ruling that has halted the scheduled execution of a Dallas man convicted of killing his two young daughters 15 years ago.

State attorneys could have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court the decision from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to stop 60-year-old John David Battaglia’s lethal injection scheduled for Wednesday evening.

Spokeswoman Katherine Wise says state won’t try to get the reprieve lifted.

Battaglia’s lawyer contends, and the appeals court agreed, that he needs more time to determine if Battaglia is mentally competent for execution.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a prisoner can be executed if he’s aware that the death penalty is set to be carried out and understands why he’s facing the ultimate sentence.

11 a.m.

A federal appeals court has stopped the scheduled lethal injection of a former accountant set to die for gunning down his two young daughters in Dallas 15 years ago while his ex-wife — their mother — was listening helplessly on the phone.

Attorneys for 60-year-old John David Battaglia argued he deserved a court-appointed attorney to investigate and a fair hearing to determine claims he may be mentally incompetent for execution.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed, halting the punishment about seven hours before Battaglia could have been taken to the Texas death chamber Wednesday evening.

Battaglia was convicted of killing his 9- and 6-year-old daughters. Authorities said the slayings were revenge for their mother’s complaints to Battaglia’s parole officer that led to a warrant for his arrest.

1:40 a.m.

Attorneys are asking federal courts to halt the scheduled execution of a 60-year-old former Dallas accountant condemned for gunning down his young daughters while their mother helplessly listened on the phone.

John Battaglia is set for lethal injection Wednesday evening for the 2001 slayings of his 9- and 6-year-old girls. His lawyers contend they need more time to show he’s incompetent for capital punishment.

Texas attorneys say the last-day appeals are a fishing expedition and there’s no evidence to show he’s incompetent.

Prosecutors said the slayings at Battaglia’s apartment were in revenge for his ex-wife’s harassment complaints that led to an arrest warrant issued against him. He already was on probation at the time.

His execution would be the nation’s 10th this year, and the sixth in Texas.