By Destiny Gurrola
SHERMAN, TX – Death Row prisoner Andre Thomas’ attempts to obtain the necessary documents to show his incompetence for execution are being disrupted by the state, claimed his lawyers this week.
A motion was filed Thursday in the 15th Judicial Court of Grayson County to modify or withdraw his execution date for April 5, 2023.
Thomas’ defense said it needs more time to further investigate and prepare necessary affidavits and supporting records displaying Thomas’s incompetence for execution because Texas’ deadline of March 15 isn’t enough time.
The Motion states, “Mr. Thomas suffers from schizophrenia and has endured fixed delusions and auditory and visual hallucinations since he was a boy. Those delusions and hallucinations led Mr. Thomas to gouge out his right eye five days after he turned himself in for the crime for which he was sentenced to death and led him to remove his second eye—and eat it—three years after he was sent to death row.
“Those delusions and hallucinations have continued during the 18 years he has resided on death row despite consistent administration of multiple anti-psychotic medications. Undersigned counsel have a sound basis for believing that Mr. Thomas is incompetent to be executed under state and federal law.”
Thomas’ attorneys claim they began searching for his prison records, or documents, that would be essential in displaying his incompetence upon the scheduling of his execution.
However, these efforts were undermined by the state which created obstacles, the defense charged.
Maurie Levin, Thomas’ attorney, said, “In other Texas counties, the District Attorneys’ office routinely collects and turns over to the defense the records of prisoners who state they are incompetent for execution. In Mr. Thomas’ case, the State began by claiming they could not obtain the documents sought when they were already in possession of thousands of pages of Mr. Thomas’ medical records.
“The obstruction continued when the State sought to quash Mr. Thomas’ subpoena for these records – a tactic that has not been employed in other similar cases. It was only after litigation and consistent follow up that Mr. Thomas’ counsel received just this week over 800 additional pages of records”
The records sought, said the defense, reflect the ongoing severe mental illness and hallucinations that continue for Thomas, even now.
It was noted by prison staff in May 2021 that Thomas stated that “the govt is trying to kill me … they know how important I am to God … I found artificial intelligence and super computers … I broke the big telescope … I used telekinesis … I was connected to the whole world by telepathy.”
A December 2022 entry about Thomas states “full delusions,” he “rambled about seeing whatever God wants him to see, mortal combat, nieces, and ‘entities’ … speech was rapid when discussing this and he had hyper-religious themes”; Mr. Thomas and the doctor discussed a “recent episode of self-injurious behavior” and that he “broke a spoon and tried to cut his neck”; “DSM5 diagnosis: Schizophrenia.”
The last of the records essential to begin the ask of a “substantial showing” of his incompetence to be executed are barely being received as of this week because of the obstructions committed by the state, said Thomas’ lawyers.
The motion for Thomas states, “The filing of an Article 46.05 motion is no small feat. Assessment of incompetence under the Eighth Amendment is not a simple calculation that can rest on a handful of statements by a defendant. The United States Supreme Court has rejected a shallow standard that deems a prisoner who ‘knows that the State has identified his crimes as the reason for his execution’ as competent. Panetti v. Quarterman, 551 U.S. 930, 958 (2007).”
The lawyers said, “What is necessary to be done in two weeks meeting the deadline for Mr. Thomas’s Article 46.05 motion cannot be done because of the state’s delays.”
The defense in its motion adds, “Failure to provide adequate time to carry out those tasks would fail to give meaningful effect to the Court’s orders appointing counsel, granting discovery, and approving expert and investigative funding. Failure to provide adequate time to carry out those tasks before presenting an Article 46.05 motion would obstruct counsels’ duties and due process as well as risk Mr. Thomas’s execution despite his incompetence.”