Bobby Moore Will Not Be Executed

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has commuted his sentence

After a multi-decade legal battle, Bobby Moore, the Houston man convicted in 1981 for the capital murder of supermarket clerk James McCarble, has been spared execution.

On the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 6, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals begrudgingly commuted Moore's death sentence to life imprisonment due to his intellectual disability. In its three page decision, which criticizes both the trial court and the U.S. Supreme Court for ruling in Moore’s favor, the CCA admits SCOTUS’s latest decision is “determinative.” In February 2019, the high court found Moore exempt from the death penalty due to intellectual disability. CCA’s filing concludes: “There is nothing left for us to do but to implement the Supreme Court’s holding. Accordingly, we reform Applicant’s sentence of death to a sentence of life imprisonment.”

SCOTUS first ruled in Moore’s favor in March 2017, when justices sided 5-3 with Moore and vacated the CCA’s initial judgement, which relied on the unscientific "Briseno factors" (guidelines based in part on the fictional Lennie from John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men instead of actual – and current – medical guidelines).

Bobby Moore

Though the CCA abandoned the Briseno tests following the 2017 ruling and adopted the framework set forth in the American Psychiatric Association's diagnostic manual (the DSM-5), the state’s highest criminal court still argued that Moore “failed to show adaptive deficits sufficient to support a diagnosis of intellectual disability.” But earlier this year, SCOTUS again sided with Moore granting his appeal and stating that, on the “basis of the trial court record, Moore has shown he is a person with an intellectual disability. … The judgment of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is reversed, and the case is remanded for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.”

In a statement sent out early Wednesday, Moore’s attorney Cliff Sloan said, "We are very pleased with this decision. We greatly appreciate that the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has implemented the Supreme Court decision and has ensured that justice is done regarding the inappropriateness of the death penalty for Bobby Moore."

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Bobby Moore, Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, Death Watch, U.S. Supreme Court, Briseno factors

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