This undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice
shows death row inmate Danny Bible. The U.S. Supreme Court has refused
an appeal from Bible on death row for the 1979 slaying of a woman who
went to his house in Houston to use a telephone and was found later
stabbed 11 times with an ice pick, raped and dumped on the bank of a
bayou. The high court, without comment Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016, rejected
the appeal of 65-year-old Bible. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice
Lawyers for Houston-area serial killer Danny Bible filed a civil
rights suit Friday alleging the aging death row inmate is in such poor
health that any attempts to execute him will end in a gruesome, botched
The so-called "ice pick killer" has
Parkinson's, bad veins and a slew of other medical conditions that raise
the possibility of a prolonged and painful lethal injection process his
lawyers argue could violate the 8th Amendment's ban on cruel and
The 66-year-old is scheduled to die on June 27.
"Texas will almost certainly join Alabama and
Ohio and add itself to the unconscionable list of botched executions in
America," his attorney Jeremy Schepers told the Chronicle.
READ MORE: Lawyers claim last 2 Texas executions botched by old drugs - and Dallas killer should get a stay
"Mr. Bible is an elderly, frail man who has
been confined to a wheelchair for the last 15 years and his health is
rapidly deteriorating," he continued. "Recent medical evaluations
confirm that his veins are inaccessible and unsuitable for placing an
IV. Any attempts to carry out the execution will amount to torture,
cause excruciating pain, and violate his constitutional rights."
Bible's bid for reprieve comes months after a
high-profile botch that forced officials in Alabama to call off the
execution of Doyle Hamm, a 61-year-old death row prisoner with lymphoma.
In February, a lethal injection team there spent hours poking the
condemned killer's arms, legs and groin to find a usable vein before
ultimately giving up as the midnight deadline approached.
Previously, Ohio saw similarly botched
procedures in the attempted execution of Romell Broom in 2009 and Alva
Campbell in 2017. Schepers writes that Bible is in worse health than
Hamm, Campbell or Broom.
The Texas lethal injection preparation - a
part of the process media and witnesses are not permitted to observe -
involves inserting two IV lines, while the prisoner is strapped to a
But lying down causes Bible shortness of
breath, and his lawyers argue that he would "likely be choking and
gasping for air" during attempts to hook up IVs that may be "futile"
Bible's legal claim, which lays out a "galaxy
of medical issues" in detail over the course of 90 pages, names Texas
Department of Criminal Justice officials and "anonymous execution team
members" among its numerous defendants.
This isn't the first time a Texas death row
prisoner has fought his sentence by questioning the lethal injection
process. Thomas "Bart" Whitaker - a Fort Bend man eventually spared by
Gov. Greg Abbott - was one of three inmates behind a years-long suit
alleging the drugs Texas uses could cause undue suffering.
And earlier this year, hours before his
February execution, John Battaglia unsuccessfully tried winning a stay
by raising concerns about two allegedly botched executions his lawyers
said were caused by too-old drugs.
Both of those cases focused on the
possibility that the drugs themselves would cause suffering, a claim
that could more generally apply to any death row prisoner. Bible's
argument focuses more narrowly on the possibility that he, specifically,
is unfit to execute.
"To my knowledge this is the first suit of
its kind in Texas," said lethal injection expert and death penalty
lawyer Maurie Levin, who worked on the Whitaker and Battaglia cases.
In Bible's case, his lawyers suggest that an
alternative method - firing squad or nitrogen gas - would decrease the
risk of suffering.
Bible was initially sent to death row in 2003, more than two decades after the crime that landed him there.
A former drifter, Bible's lengthy string of
violence dates back to at least 1979. That May, a passerby found the
bloodied, half-naked body of Inez Deaton along the slope of a Houston
bayou. She'd been stabbed 11 times with an ice pick before her killer
posed her corpse by the water.
For nearly two decades, Deaton's slaying went unsolved – but Bible's violent streak continued.
In the years that followed, Bible terrorized
women in the Midwest, once setting his girlfriend's car on fire because
he didn't like her haircut. After he returned to Texas and settled west
of Fort Worth, he murdered his sister-in-law Tracy Powers and her infant
son Justin. Then, he killed Powers' roommate, Pam Hudgins, and left her
body hanging from a roadside fence.
Following those killings, he fled to Montana,
where he kidnapped a woman and raped an 11-year-old girl, according to
Eventually, he was caught and in 1984 he
pleaded guilty to Hudgins' murder. He was sentenced to 25 years for the
killing and 20 years for a Harris County robbery. He was released on
parole eight years later, under a since-repealed mandatory supervision
While still on parole, he raped and molested
multiple young relatives, including a 5-year-old. Then in 1998, he raped
Tera Robinson in a Louisiana motel room before stuffing her into a
duffel bag when he became enraged that he couldn't maintain an erection.
The woman broke free and called for help.
Bible was eventually caught in Florida, and freely admitted to his crimes under questioning.
Weeks after he was sentenced, Bible narrowly
escaped death during a head-on-collision on the way to death row. The
officer behind the wheel of the prison transport vehicle, 40-year-old
John Bennett, died in the wreck, while Bible ended up in a wheelchair.
In past appeals, Bible's attorneys have used
his deteriorating medical condition to argue against his execution,
saying he can't be a danger in his current state.
Texas has already executed six men this year,
including another Houston serial killer, Anthony Shore. Aside from
Bible's, there are seven other death dates on the calendar in Texas.