Andre Thomas – Sane Enough to Die? (Part 1)

thomas.jpgA million words have been written about Andre Thomas, the Sherman, Texas death row inmate whose brutal act of capital murder I will not describe here. Needless to say, infant children and their mother were killed by knife in about as grotesque of a manner possible.

However, a million words can also be said in support of the State of Texas not following Andre Thomas’s horrific crime with a horrific act of its own – executing a severely mentally ill human being of questionable competency to even stand trial in the first place. Since his jury trial, prior to which he tore out his right eyeball, he has since torn out his left eyeball and eaten it. Some say his acts are simply “malingering,” but I believe he is one crazy SOB.

The facts of the Andre Thomas case are detailed in the Texas Court of Criminal Appeal’s opinion denying his postconviction writ of habeas corpus, a post-conviction challenge whereby condemned defendants, following their appeal, litigate in the Court of Criminal Appeals whether they got a fair trial under Constitutional and state law.

Judge Cochran wrote a detailed concurring opinion denying Andre Thomas’s writ due to the tragic nature of the case, and I have pulled out some of the more memorable quotes for those who do not want to read the entire opinion, which I recommend doing:

“This is an extraordinarily tragic case. I concur in the denial of relief because applicant has not shown that he is being illegally restrained or that his capital murder conviction or death sentence was obtained in violation of the constitution. … But two of applicant’s groups of claims-claims relating to his insanity defense and incompetency to be tried-deserve greater explanation.”

“Applicant has a severe mental illness. He suffers from psychotic delusions and perhaps from schizophrenia.”

“While there is no dispute that applicant was, in laymen’s terms, “crazy” at the time he killed his wife and the children, the legal question is whether he knew that what he was doing was “wrong” or a “crime” at the time he acted. (27) There is no dispute that applicant knew that it was his wife and the children that he was stabbing to death. He may have thought that he was morally justified in doing so because she was a “Jezebel,” his son was the “Anti-Christ,” and Leyha was somehow evil also. He said, “I thought I was doing the will of God.” (28) But religious fervor, whether the result of a severe mental disease or inspired by a jihadist fatw or KKK rally, does not provide a legal excuse for the knowingly “wrongful” murder of a person.”

“Although reasonable people might well differ on the questions of whether this applicant was sane at the time he committed these murders or competent at the time he was tried, those issues were appropriately addressed by the defense, the prosecution, trial judge, and the jury during the trial…This is a sad case. Applicant is clearly “crazy,” but he is also “sane” under Texas law.