Texas prepares for 300th execution

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The Independent US

Texas was due last night to complete its 300th execution since it brought back capital punishment in 1982, maintaining the state's record as the most merciless judicial killing machine in the Western world. But, as with countless other cases, number 300 is riddled with questions over the condemned man's guilt.

Texas was due last night to complete its 300th execution since it brought back capital punishment in 1982, maintaining the state's record as the most merciless judicial killing machine in the Western world. But, as with countless other cases, number 300 is riddled with questions over the condemned man's guilt.

Delma Banks Jnr, 44, was convicted of murdering a 16-year-old co-worker in Nash, east Texas, in 1980. One principal witness was a paid informant and another a convicted felon who was offered a sentencing deal in exchange for his testimony – an arrangement that was withheld from the defence at trial. Other witnesses put Banks in Dallas, more than a three-hour drive from Nash at the time of the murder.

Banks – a black defendant facing an all-white jury in a notoriously racist part of Texas – received shoddy legal representation. His case has been described by civil rights lawyers as a "one-stop shop for what's wrong with the administration of the death penalty".

But the appeals courts remained unmoved, even though Banks' cause has been taken up by three former federal judges, including William Sessions, an ex-FBI director. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals this week refused to block the execution, and the parole board dismissed a reprieve petition on the basis that it was filed too late.

Barring a last-minute intervention from a higher court, Banks was due to be taken from the Death Row unit at Livingston to be executed by lethal injection in Huntsville at midnight last night.

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