John Balentine was sentenced to death by the State of Texas for the murders of three people. According to court documents John Balentine would break into a home and shoot and kill the three victims while they slept. John Balentine would be arrested, convicted and sentenced to death.
John Balentine 2023 Information
SID Number: 05995622
TDCJ Number: 00999315
Name: BALENTINE,JOHN LEZELL
Maximum Sentence Date: DEATH ROW
Current Facility: POLUNSKY
Projected Release Date: DEATH ROW
Parole Eligibility Date: DEATH ROW
Inmate Visitation Eligible: YES
John Balentine More News
An ex-con suspected in a triple homicide in the Texas Panhandle spent six months on the lam before a broken taillight gave him away.
John Balentine gave the officer who pulled him over a false name, but it showed up as an alias he often used. He was arrested in Houston — 600 miles from a tiny house in Amarillo where the killings took place — and later confessed. Prosecutors said the slayings were the result of a feud between Balentine and his ex-girlfriend’s brother.
The 42-year-old former auto mechanic and laborer is scheduled for lethal injection Wednesday in the nation’s most active death penalty state. His execution is to be followed Thursday by that of Lee Andrew Taylor, a 32-year-old convicted of stabbing another inmate. Balentine would be the fifth prisoner executed in Texas this year.
The Arkansas native avoided a trip to the death chamber nearly two years ago when a federal appeals court halted his execution a day before it was scheduled to take place. The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals lifted its reprieve in November, clearing the way for the execution to be reset.
The U.S. Supreme Court refused Monday to review Balentine’s case, and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected another appeal Tuesday. His attorney, Lydia Brandt, went back to the high court Tuesday, arguing Balentine had shoddy legal help in the early stages of his appeals that neglected to show he had equally deficient attorneys at his trial.
“Each of the defense attorneys waived all of John’s rights to a fair trial and a fair appeal,” she said.
Balentine refused to speak with reporters as his execution date neared. Originally from Newport, Ark., he had a lengthy criminal record involving burglary, kidnapping, assault and robbery in his native state before he was arrested in the January 1998 slayings in Amarillo. As a 15-year-old, he broke into a high school ROTC building and stole rifles and military fatigues.
He was convicted of murder and sentenced to die in Texas for fatally shooting Mark Caylor Jr., 17; Kai Brooke Geyer, 15; and Steven Watson, also 15. Caylor was the brother of Balentine’s former girlfriend, and prosecutors said a feud between Caylor and Balentine led to the shootings in a tiny house where Balentine also once lived. Evidence showed all three teens were shot once with a .32-caliber pistol as they slept.
In a tape-recorded statement to police played at his 1999 trial, Balentine said he moved out of the house because of drug use there. He said he learned later that Caylor was looking to kill him because he had “jumped on his sister.”
Balentine described slipping into the house and shooting each of the teens in the head.
“Mark had threatened my life, threatened my brother, girlfriend … waving a gun and talking about what he was going to do to me and whoever else come over there looking for me and stuff,” he told police.
He said he didn’t know the other two victims, Geyer and Watson.
A neighbor heard a gunshot and called police. When an officer responding to the call questioned Balentine, who was walking down the street about 50 yards from the house, he gave a false name. And when the officer found an unspent.32-caliber bullet in Balentine’s pocket, he let him go because it wasn’t illegal to carry a bullet.
Police didn’t learn about the triple homicide until later that day, and then it took them six months to catch up to Balentine.
Randy Sherrod, one of Balentine’s trial lawyers, said prosecutors offered him a life sentence in exchange for a guilty plea.
“We were tickled to death,” Sherrod recalled last week. “We had basically told him he would get the death penalty without question.”
Balentine turned down the deal, explaining he’d already spent time in prison and worried about “being stuck with other inmates” and feared “a shiv stuck in me.” John Balentine believed he’d be safer on death row, where inmates are isolated, Sherrod said.
“Made practical sense to me,” he said.