Supreme Court Halts Execution 90 Minutes Before Scheduled Time
MICHAEL L. GRACZYK
Feb. 11, 1988
HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) _ Convicted killer Calvin Williams was back on death row Thursday after a U.S. Supreme Court decision spared his life 90 minutes before Texas prison officials were scheduled to execute him.
Williams, 27, of Houston had faced death by injection early Thursday for the 1980 strangulation of a Houston travel agent.
The high court, responding to appeals from his attorneys, voted 7-0 for a reprieve about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.
''Thank you,'' Williams told an assistant warden who informed him of the stay, his fourth.
A few minutes later, with chains around his wrists and ankles and guarded by officers carrying shotguns, he was removed from a small cell adjacent to the death chamber and returned to death row, where he has lived for almost eight years.
Williams had promised that he would not be placed on the death chamber gurney without a fight. He never had to carry out that threat.
Williams acknowledged breaking into the apartment where the travel agent, Emily Anderson, was killed, but insisted the burglary occurred a month before the killing. His fingerprints, however, were found in the woman's stolen car, recovered a few blocks from Williams' home.
The high court ruling came after a federal district judge in Houston and an appeals court in New Orleans refused to halt the execution.
Williams' attorneys contend the Texas death penalty law is flawed in that it does not allow jurors to consider mitigating circumstances and forces them to return a death verdict in capital murder cases.
The argument has been successful in many recent capital punishment cases since that challenge to the law is pending before the Supreme Court in another Texas death row case.
Miss Anderson, 28, from Fort Worth, had moved to Houston to open a new branch of a travel agency.
Williams was in 11th grade when he was sent to jail on a robbery conviction. He had been out 34 days when the Anderson slaying occurred.
''I would be glad to have it over with,'' said Miss Anderson's sister, Ellen Yarrell. ''As far as I'm concerned, he's had eight years she didn't have.''
Williams would have become the 95th inmate to be put to death nationwide and the 28th in Texas - more than any other state - since the Supreme Court allowed the death penalty to resume in 1976.