The State of Texas is preparing to execute John Balentine tonight, February 8 2023, for the murders of three teenagers. According to court documents John Balentine would break into a home and murder three people, 17 year old Edward Mark Caylor, 15 year old Kai Brooke Geyer and 15 year old Steven Brady Watson while they slept.
Apparently the reason for the murders was that one of the victims was the brother of his ex girlfriend and he did not approve of their interracial relationship. John Balentine who made a full confession to the triple murders would be sentenced to death. John Balentine lawyers believe that his race is the reason he was sentenced to death and not life without parole.
John Balentine was executed by lethal injection on February 8 2023
John Balentine Execution News
Texas is seeking on Wednesday to execute John Lezell Balentine, who was convicted of killing three teens in an Amarillo home, as his attorneys pursued last-minute appeals raising questions about juror misconduct and racial prejudice at his trial.
John Balentine, a 54-year-old Black man, was sentenced to death nearly 25 years ago for shooting three male teenagers, all white, in the head while they slept in a home Balentine had previously shared with his ex-girlfriend, according to court records.
One of the victims was his ex-girlfriend’s brother, who had disapproved of the couple’s interracial relationship and previously threatened Balentine in a dispute that grew racist. John Balentine did not recognize the other two victims. A jury found Balentine guilty of capital murder in 1999.
Although John Balentine confessed to the murders, his current lawyers have argued that racism “pervaded” the trial, leading jurors to hand down a death sentence rather than life in prison.
The execution date was set after a flurry of court filings and rulings and following years of appeals.
A state district judge in Potter County recalled the execution date and execution warrant last week after finding Balentine’s last-known lawyer was not properly notified of the warrant of execution and date in accordance with state code.
Prosecutors last Friday appealed to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, asking the state’s highest criminal court to overrule the judge and reinstate Wednesday’s execution date. That appeal was still pending Tuesday evening.
Meanwhile, Balentine’s lawyers also asked the Court of Criminal Appeals to stop the execution so they can file new appeals based on evidence they have unearthed concerning the jury’s decision to sentence him to death.
In their request, his lawyers say they have new evidence revealed about the jury foreperson’s long-held racist views. The foreperson, who used the N-word frequently and said he did not like Black people, believed that interracial relationships like the one John Balentine had had with his ex-girlfriend were wrong, according to the application.
The foreperson also did not disclose violent incidents that would have disqualified him as a juror and later admitted he had intentionally withheld the information, according to the appeal. He also did not disclose that he had been both a victim of and witness to violent crimes, including being shot and sexually molested.
When the jury began deliberations, he refused to consider a life sentence for Balentine.
“I am pretty stubborn and pretty aggressive. I don’t play well with others,” the foreperson said in his sworn declaration, according to the application for post-conviction relief. “I made it clear that we were chosen to take care of this problem, and that the death penalty was the only answer. If we didn’t, I told them Balentine would do it again.”
One juror tried to send a note to the judge saying she did not want to sentence Balentine to death, but the foreperson ripped it up, according to the filing. At least four jurors expressed opposition to execution.
The filing also scrutinizes Balentine’s defense lawyers for racist attitudes and for disparaging their own client. In one handwritten note between two of the attorneys, one wrote, “Can you spell justifiable lynching?”
“We now know that the jury foreperson held racist views, lied about his background, and pressured other jurors to vote for death,” Shawn Nolan, one of Balentine’s current lawyers, said in a statement this week. “This kind of juror misconduct would be egregious in any case, but it is particularly damaging in a death penalty case already rife with racial issues.”
The latest execution date was scheduled in September after the Supreme Court did not take up the case in June.
Balentine, who has also asked the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles and Gov. Greg Abbott to commute his sentence, is among a group of condemned inmates involved in an ongoing legal battle to stop the state prison system from extending the expiration dates of its execution drugs.
The practice, which the Texas Department of Criminal Justice has maintained for years due to fewer pharmacies producing execution drugs, violates the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment, the inmates claim
John Balentine Execution
A man convicted of killing three teenagers while they slept in a Texas Panhandle home more than 25 years ago was executed on Wednesday, the sixth inmate to be put to death in the U.S. this year and the second in as many days.
John Balentine, 54, whose attorneys had argued that his trial was marred by racial bias, received a lethal injection at the state penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas, for the January 1998 shooting deaths of Edward Mark Caylor, 17, Kai Brooke Geyer, 15, and Steven Watson, 15, at a home in Amarillo. Prosecutors said all three were shot once in the head as they slept. Balentine, who was 28 years old at the time, was arrested in Houston six months after the slayings.
Balentine appeared jovial as witnesses were entering the death chamber, asking if someone standing near the gurney could remove the sheet covering the lower two-thirds of his body “and massage my feet.” Then he chuckled.
After a brief prayer from a spiritual adviser who held Balentine’s left foot with his right hand, the prisoner gave a short statement thanking friends for supporting him. Then he turned his head to look through a window at seven relatives of his three murder victims and apologized.
“I hope you can find in your heart to forgive me,” he said.
The mothers of each of the three victims were among the witnesses a few feet from him.
He took two breaths as the lethal dose of the powerful sedative pentobarbital began flowing through intravenous needles in his arms, snored twice, yawned and began snoring again loudly. The snores – 11 of them – became progressively quieter, then stopped.
At 6:36 p.m., 15 minutes after the drugs began, a physician pronounced him dead. The victims’ witnesses then shared high-fives before leaving the death chamber. They declined to speak with reporters afterward.
Caylor’s sister, who was among the witnesses watching him die, was Balentine’s former girlfriend, and prosecutors said the shootings stemmed from a feud between Caylor and Balentine. Balentine, however, argued that Caylor and others had threatened his life over his interracial relationship. Balentine is Black. The three victims were white.
Balentine confessed to the murders. One of his trial attorneys said Balentine turned down a plea agreement that would have sentenced him to life in prison because the racists threats he received made him afraid of being attacked or killed while incarcerated.
Lawyers were pursuing two legal strategies to save their client before he was executed. The first was to argue that his trial and sentencing were tainted by racism. But Balentine was also among five Texas death row inmates who sued to stop the state’s prison system from using what they allege are expired and unsafe execution drugs. Despite a civil court judge in Austin preliminarily agreeing with the claims, the state’s top two courts have now allowed three of the five inmates participating in the lawsuit to be executed. Robert Fratta, 65, was put to death Jan. 10 and Wesley Ruiz, 43, on Feb. 1.
Prison officials said the state’s supply of execution drugs is safe.
Separately, Balentine’s attorneys alleged the jury foreman in his case, Dory England, held racist views and used racial slurs during his life and bullied other jurors who had wanted to sentence Balentine to a life sentence into changing their minds. Lola Perkins, who had been married to England’s brother, told Balentine’s attorneys that England “was racist against Black people because that is how he was raised.”
England, in a declaration before his death in 2021, said he pushed for Balentine’s death sentence because he worried if the accused was ever released that England himself “would need to hunt him down.” However, England also said he threatened to report another juror to the judge for making prejudiced comments when the person “started going off about this Black guy killing these white teenagers.”
Balentine’s attorneys also alleged prosecutors prevented all prospective Black jurors from serving at the trial and that Balentine’s trial lawyers referred to the sentencing proceedings in a note as a “justifiable lynching.”
Randall Sherrod, one of Balentine’s trial attorneys, said Wednesday he could not remember the note but denied that he or the other attorney, James Durham Jr., had any racist attitudes toward Balentine. Durham died in 2006.
“I think he got a fair trial,” Sherrod said of Balentine. “I think we had a good jury. We tried to help John whatever way we could.”
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday declined an appeal from Balentine’s attorneys to halt the execution so that his claims of racial bias could be properly reviewed.
A defense request for Republican Gov. Greg Abbott to temporarily stay the execution also failed and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied a request to stay Ballentine’s execution over allegations that “racism and racial issues pervaded” his trial. The appeals court denied the stay on procedural grounds without reviewing the merits.
On Wednesday afternoon, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously declined to commute Balentine’s death sentence to a lesser punishment or to grant a 30-day reprieve.
“Without a thorough judicial consideration of Mr. Balentine’s claims, we can have no confidence that the death verdict isn’t tainted by racial bias,” Shawn Nolan, one of Balentine’s attorneys, said.
Potter County District Attorney Randall Sims, whose jurisdiction includes Amarillo, where the murders occurred, had pushed for the execution to go forward. On Monday he declined to comment ahead of the execution.
Koda Shadix, the younger brother of Geyer, one of the victims, said in a video posted online last week that he was upset by efforts to delay justice.
Shadix said Balentine had “shown no remorse and absolutely did not care what he did. All he cares about is his life.”