Texas halts scheduled execution pending drug test

HOUSTON (AP) — The scheduled July 14 execution of a man convicted in the slaying of a Houston medical student was postponed indefinitely Wednesday pending testing of the lethal injection drugs as part of a lawsuit settlement, a prison system spokesman said.

A state district judge in Houston withdrew the execution order for Perry Eugene Williams because the tests will not be received in time for review by the condemned man's attorneys, said Jason Clark of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The Texas Attorney General's Office agreed to the tests to settle a lawsuit filed on behalf of Williams and another death row inmate that challenged the use of the drugs.

This is the second time the execution was postponed for Williams, who was sentenced to death for the 2000 slaying of Baylor College of Medicine student Matthew Carter. A Sept. 29 execution date was canceled so a new attorney could be appointed to handle Williams' appeals.

According to trial evidence, Carter had dropped off a movie at a video store and was walking back to his car when he was abducted at gunpoint, ordered to the front passenger seat of his car and was driven away. He begged for his life, offered the gunman his ATM card and, after the car stopped behind a Masonic temple, was shot in the head at close range. The gunman and three companions who had been following in a second car divided $40 taken from Carter's wallet in one of several robberies tied to the group that September night nearly 16 years ago.

Williams was to be the seventh inmate executed this year in Texas, which carries out the death penalty more than any other state. The delay doesn't affect the state's next scheduled lethal injection, the Aug. 10 execution of Ramiro Gonzales for the 2001 slaying of an 18-year-old woman in Medina County, Clark said.