HOUSTON — A federal appeals court has refused an appeal from a Bryan man sent to death row for killing his ex-girlfriend by throwing gasoline on the woman and setting her on fire.
Attorneys for Carl Henry Blue, 46, argued to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that he's mentally impaired, making him legally ineligible for execution, and that instructions given to Brazos County jurors at a punishment trial in 2001 were unconstitutional.
A three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based court rejected the arguments Thursday.
Blue was convicted in 1995 and sentenced to death for killing Carmen Richards-Sanders, 38, who was set on fire at her apartment in College Station in 1994. A man with her, Larence Williams, also was set ablaze but survived and testified against Blue.
Blue was given a second punishment hearing in 2001 after a psychologist was found to have testified improperly at his first trial that because Blue was a black man, he was more likely to be a future danger. Blue was among about a half-dozen condemned Texas inmates to receive new punishment trials because of similar trial testimony from the psychologist, but his latest appeal was based on his second punishment trial.
Blue does not have an execution date and could appeal his case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
John Wright, an attorney for Blue, did not immediately return a call Friday from The Associated Press.
Evidence showed Blue bought a paper cup of gasoline from a station next to the apartment complex and waited outside for Richards-Sanders to leave for work. When she opened the door, he threw gasoline on her and used a lighter to ignite her. When he saw Williams, he also tossed gasoline on him.
Blue turned himself in to police. Prison records show he told authorities he'd been drinking and smoking crack behind a convenience store, decided as a joke to offer the gasoline to her as a drink and became enraged when he saw Williams with her.
Defense lawyers acknowledged at Blue's trial that he was responsible for the fire death but said the circumstances did not make it a death penalty case.