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Three Separate Texas Death Row Cases Lose Appeals

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The Texas death chamber in Huntsville, TX (Photo by Joe Raedle/Newsmakers)

The Texas death chamber in Huntsville, TX (Photo by Joe Raedle/Newsmakers)

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DALLAS, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) - Two Supreme Court appeals and one Federal appeal from Texas death row inmates were all recently denied – moving the condemned one step closer to execution.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has refused arguments from attorneys for 54-year-old Randall Wayne Mays that the former welder and oilfield worker had deficient legal help at his 2008 trial. The court late Friday also turned down contentions that sentencing Mays to death was unconstitutionally cruel because he’s mentally ill.

Mays was convicted of the slaying of sheriff’s deputy Tony Ogburn. A second officer, Paul Habelt, also was killed. A third deputy was wounded.

The shootings occurred after Mays barricaded himself in his house in Payne Springs, about 55 miles southeast of Dallas.

On Monday, The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to review an appeal from a 33-year-old Bexar County man sent to death row for the slaying of a San Antonio police officer in 2001.

The ruling upholds a lower appeals court ruling that rejected arguments that Manuel Garza Jr. had deficient legal help at his 2002 trial for killing officer John Riojas.

Evidence showed Riojas was trying to arrest Garza on several outstanding warrants when Garza tried to flee. The officer was shot with his own gun as the pair struggled.

Garza told police in a confession he ran because he didn’t want to return to jail.

He does not yet have an execution date.

In another Supreme Court ruling, a Nicaraguan man sent to Texas death row for fatally shooting a customer during a robbery at a Houston-area dry cleaning store has lost his appeal that contended he was under 18 at the time of the slaying, making him ineligible for the death penalty.

Prison records show 36-year-old Bernardo Tercero gunned down Robert Berger during a struggle more than 17 years ago as Berger’s three-year-old daughter stood nearby.  Tercero and a companion then fled with two cash registers.

Tercero wound up in Nicaragua and was returned to Texas to face trial.

Tercero had conflicting birth certificates. He insisted the accurate one showed he was younger than 18 at the time of the shooting. The Supreme Court, without comment Monday, refused to review his case.

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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