Supreme Court rules for Texas death row inmate Bobby Moore

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The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a Texas man condemned to die for a 1980 murder in Houston was not properly sentenced, sending his case back to Texas courts.

Bobby Moore was convicted of  killing a clerk during a grocery-store robbery in April 1980, when he used a shotgun to shoot James “Jim” McCarble, an elderly convenience store clerk in Houston.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected Moore’s claim of intellectual disability in 2015, saying Moore didn’t meet the state’s “Briseno factors,” a non-clinical, seven-pronged test which a judge based on the character of Lennie Smalls from John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men.”

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The Supreme Court previously has said executing the intellectually disabled violates the Eighth Amendment’s protection against cruel and unusual punishment. Moore’s lawyers challenged the state’s standards for determining whether he is too intellectually disabled.

A five-justice majority sided with Moore, striking down Texas’ “Briseno factors” and sending Moore’s case back for new consideration. 

“The several factors Briseno set out as indicators of intellectual disability are an invention of the (Court of Criminal Appeals) untied to any acknowledged source,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority. “Not aligned with the medical community’s information, and drawing no strength from our precedent, the Briseno factors ‘creat[e] an unacceptable risk that persons with intellectual disability will be executed.’ “

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Justice Anthony Kennedy, who frequently acts as the court’s swing vote, joined Ginsburg’s majority opinion along with the justices who comprise the court’s liberal wing, along with Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Anthony Kennedy and Sonia Sotomayor.

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote a dissent that was joined by justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas.


>>>Scroll through the gallery above to see the most controversial death sentences in Texas

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