HENDERSON COUNTY–Eleven years after he was first sentenced to die, Randall Mays has an execution date set for October 16, 2019. Mays was originally set for execution in 2015, but less than a month before his execution date, his lawyers filed a motion challenging his competency 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.
The Court of Criminal Appeals agreed that he had met the “threshold 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In its 43-page unpublished opinion, the Court concluded that: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 articulated rationale for the execution.”
“We affirm the trial judge’s decision finding Mays competent to be executed and lift the stay of execution.”
During the hearing June 17, Mays stood up and objected several times, but each time Judge Joe Clayton overruled him. Mays is set to die at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16 by lethal injection.