Texas Killer Faces Execution
The U.S. Supreme Court is all that stands between the Texas execution chamber and convicted triple murderer John Balentine. The 43-year-old Balentine is scheduled to die by lethal injection Wednesday evening in Hunstville, barring a final appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. If Balentine wins a reprieve, it would be the third time he has avoided execution at the last minute. His previous appeals were granted for claims that he had ineffective counsel at trial, but on Tuesday the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Balentine's latest appeal.
Balentine was convicted in the murder of 17-year-old Edward Caylor and 15-year-olds Kai Geyer and Steven Watson back in January 1998. "Balentine broke into an Amarillo home and then shot the three teenagers in the head while they slept," says Jason Clark with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). The killings were apparently the culmination of a feud, according to investigators. "Balentine dated one of the victims' sister, and he claims that one of the victims had threatened him, so he went in there and murdered all three," says Clark. Balentine was a former auto mechanic who already had a lengthy criminal record in Arkansas before the Amarillo killings.
The TDCJ is preparing for the execution while awaiting the result of the final appeal. "Until his appeal is settled, we won't move forward," says Clark. "The execution warrant becomes valid at 6 p.m." In the meantime, Balentine will await his fate in a small holding cell next to the execution chamber. If the execution is carried out, it would be the eighth in the state of Texas this year.