longest-serving inmate on death row should be given a new punishment
hearing, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced Monday.
a response filed with the Court of Criminal Appeals last week, Ogg
agreed with defense attorneys that 70-year-old Raymond Riles, a truck
driver sentenced to die for a 1974 capital
murder, is entitled to the same legal protections now afforded to
defendants in 2021.
penalty law has evolved and now requires jurors to be able to
meaningfully consider and weigh mitigation evidence about an offender
such as childhood abuse and trauma,” Ogg said.
“In 1976, Riles’ capital murder jury was not given this opportunity.”
December 1974, Riles, then 24, and another man murdered 31-year-old
John Thomas Henry at John Henry Motors, a car lot he owned in the 8500
block of Irvington. Riles and his co-defendant,
Herbert Washington, went to the car lot to confront Henry over the
condition of a car purchased there and shot him while demanding the
money back. Washington was also sentenced to death, but his sentence
was overturned, and he later pleaded guilty to two
related charges, receiving 50 and 25 year sentences.
prosecutors notified the crime victim’s son, and these cases are
heartbreaking because the process takes so long that laws can and
sometimes do change, and it just prolongs justice
and healing for the families of the dead. Nevertheless, we believe the
law requires a new punishment hearing for Riles.”
Texas law, although prosecutors and defense counsel agree, that
decision ultimately remains with the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals
where a ruling is pending.