The Court of Criminal Appeals in Austin affirmed on Wednesday, the decision by Judge Joe Clayton, sitting for the 392nd District Court, that Randall Wayne Mays is competent to be executed.
Mays was convicted in 2008 for Capital Murder in the shooting deaths of Henderson County Sheriff deputies Tony Ogburn and Paul Habelt, which occurred the previous year in Henderson County. Mays also shot and wounded Deputy Kevin Harris.
After his direct appeal and subsequent Writs of Habeas Corpus had been denied in both state and federal courts, Mays was initially scheduled for execution on March 18, 2015. Less than a month before the sentence was to be carried out, his attorneys filed a motion challenging his competency to be executed.
The Court of Criminal Appeals agreed that he had met the “threshold showing raising a substantial doubt of his competency to be executed”, overturning the trial court’s determination to the contrary, staying the execution, and ordering an additional hearing after at least two mental health experts evaluated Mays claims of incompetency.
Carter Tarrance, the 392nd District Judge at the time, and who had presided over the original trial, appointed three experts to evaluate Mays, two of which submitted opinions that Mays was incompetent to be executed. The third found him legally competent.
A contested hearing was held in August of 2017 where all three mental health experts and several other witnesses were called to testify. Mays was represented by a team of lawyers from the Office of Capital and Forensic Writs in Austin. The OCFW is a Texas state public defender office that exclusively represents individuals on death row in post-conviction litigation.
District Attorney Mark Hall and First Assistant Nancy Rumar represented the State of Texas during the four-day hearing. After taking all the evidence and testimony into consideration and under advisement, Judge Clayton rendered a written opinion declaring Mays competent to be executed. That ruling was then appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Lengthy and detailed briefs prepared by the OFCW and the State, along with transcripts from the hearing and several boxes of documentation were submitted to the Court in August of 2018 for their review and determination.
In its 43 page unpublished opinion, the Court concluded that:
“The record supports the trial judge’s determination that Mays is competent
to be executed. Mays knows he is to be executed by the State, he knows he was
convicted and sentenced for killing a police officer, and he knows his execution is imminent.
There is evidence in the record supporting the conclusion that Mays
comprehends that there is a “causal link” between the capital offense
and his imminent execution beyond merely identifying the State’s artic-
ulated rationale for the execution.”
“We affirm the trial judge’s decision finding Mays competent to be exe-
cuted and lift the stay of execution.”
“The next step in this process will be for Judge Clayton to set a hearing date to schedule Mays’ execution. I anticipate that will be done within the next thirty days or so.”, said Hall.
“I also expect that the execution date will be sometime this fall, as “an execution date may not be earlier than the 91st day after the date the convicting court enters the order setting the execution date”, pursuant to the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.”
“This has been a long, gut-wrenching process for the families of the victims in this case, and the Henderson County law enforcement community. I am glad to report that we are one-step closer to seeing the lawful sentence imposed by the jury and the courts carried out. While I fully expect there to be more last minute appeals filed in this case, the end to this ordeal is finally in sight.”