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From the Austin American-Statesman
The execution of a convicted Dallas killer proceeded as scheduled Thursday despite reports that a new test showed Derrick Lamone Johnson may have been mentally disabled.
In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court banned the execution of anyone with mental disabilities.
Controversy surfaced after a group of lawmakers, angered that the state Board of Pardons and Paroles initially confirmed Johnson's execution without reviewing the medical test information, asked Gov. Rick Perry to delay the execution.
Perry declined, and Johnson was executed as scheduled shortly after 6 p.m. — soon after the U.S. Supreme Court refused Johnson's last-minute appeals.
At 6:23 p.m., he was declared dead in the death chamber at Huntsville. Johnson, 28, a 10th-grade dropout, was convicted in the 1999 slaying of LaTausha Curry, who was kidnapped, beaten, suffocated and robbed of $10.
Lawmakers vowed to continue asking questions about how the case was handled. They also said they might try to amend one of several pending clemency bills to prevent such issues in the future.
"There is no reason why the State of Texas should rush to execute this man before it can be confirmed whether or not he is mentally retarded," said Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston.
Turner and Reps. Senfronia Thompson, D-Houston, and Terri Hodge, D-Dallas, petitioned the parole board late Wednesday for a second vote based on the new medical exam results just received in the case. Thompson and Hodge said the board voted before lunch Wednesday to deny a reprieve, even though they had been advised that Johnson's new attorney, who joined the case in early April, was rushing to submit new test results about Johnson's mental capacity.