US Supreme Court stops execution of Texas man

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HOUSTON, Sep 28 (Reuters) The US Supreme Court stopped the execution of a Texas convict scheduled to be put to death for the 1998 killing of his parents, two days after the court said it will consider whether lethal injection violates a constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Earlier yesterday, Alabama Gov Bob Riley issued a temporary stay postponing the execution of another condemned killer so the state could review its method of lethal injection.

A Supreme Court stay issued late yesterday in the Texas case will give attorneys time to file a brief with the nation's highest court.

''We're relieved,'' said Morris Moon, a Houston attorney with the nonprofit Texas Defender Service. ''We're pleased it won't be business as usual in Texas.'' Last-minute appeals by attorneys for Carlton Turner, 28, to get a stay based on the pending Supreme Court review were rejected earlier in the day by two Texas courts.

A trial court judge in Dallas County first rejected lawyer's request to withdraw Turner's execution order. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals voted 5-4 not to stop the execution. The case then went to the Supreme Court.

Turner, 28, was scheduled to become the 27th person put to death this year in Texas, which leads the United States with 405 executions since the Supreme Court lifted a national ban on capital punishment in 1976.

The Supreme Court said on Tuesday it would review an appeal from two Kentucky death row inmates who argue that the three-drug mixture used in lethal injections violates a constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

Later that day, Michael Richard was executed by injection at the same Huntsville, Texas, prison where Turner was scheduled to die.

The Kentucky appeal, which could limit or condone current forms of execution, will be one of the most closely watched of the Supreme Court's upcoming term beginning October 1.

The federal government and all but one of the 38 US states with the death penalty use lethal injection for executions. The exception is Nebraska which requires electrocution.

Turner was condemned for shooting his adoptive parents, Carlton Turner Sr. and Tonya Turner, at their home in Irving, Texas, on August 8, 1998.

He dumped their bodies in the garage, took cash and jewelry and forged a check on their bank account, prosecutors said.

Texas, has two more executions scheduled this year and two in early 2008.

REUTERS SG BD0955

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