Death row inmate loses latest appeal

Published on Monday, 30 June 2014 22:29 - Written by Kenneth Dean, kdean@tylerpaper.com

The man who shot and killed two Henderson County deputies in 2007 has lost another appeal, pushing him closer to a scheduled spring 2015 date in the execution chamber.

Henderson County District Attorney Scott McKee said he hopes the case now can move forward. 

“We want a defendant to exhaust all of their appeals, and I think in this case everything has moved through the courts about the average speed for a death penalty case,” he said.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused arguments last week from attorneys for 54-year-old Randall Wayne Mays, a former welder and oilfield worker who claimed he had deficient legal help at his 2008 trial.

Mays was sentenced to die by lethal injection for the deaths of Tony Price Ogburn, 61, a five-year veteran from Log Cabin, and Paul Steven Habelt, 63, a 13-year-veteran from Eustace, after they came to the aid of a fellow officer.

Mays also shot and injured deputy Kevin Harris during the ordeal, which began as a domestic dispute between Mays and his wife.

The court late Friday also turned down contentions that sentencing Mays to death was unconstitutionally cruel because he’s mentally ill.

The court’s ruling stated a defendant can be both mentally ill and competent to stand trial. 

Citing testimony from Mays’ trial in 2008, the court stated, “The defense submitted mitigating evidence of Mays’ violent and abusive childhood and a ‘psychotic disorder not otherwise specified,’ which was possibly linked to permanent brain damage from his chronic methamphetamine use.”

The judges also stated that Mays failed to show mental retardation under Texas law. They said Mays also failed to show the state court’s decision to be contrary to, or involving an unreasonable application of, clearly established federal law. 

McKee said he will now seek an execution date.

“We are ready to move forward, and we will now ask the court to set the date. In speaking with the Texas Attorney General’s Office, I believe the date might be sometime in the spring 2015,” he said.

Mckee said his office stays in contact with the families of the two deputies.

Patricia Ogburn said she has asked God to forgive Mays, but it was difficult. 

“I mean he killed my husband, so it is hard,” the 65-year-old widow said. “I just want this all to be over. This has been going on for seven years.”

Mrs. Ogburn said she will continue to pray about the situation, but though she might forgive, she said she would never forget.