Attorneys take Sherman man's death sentence to federal appeals court

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GRAYSON COUNTY, Tex. (KXII) -- The attorneys of a Sherman man convicted of murdering his estranged wife, their young son and the woman's daughter in 2004 are arguing he's too mentally ill to be executed.

After cutting out the hearts of three people, then later gouging out both his eyes, eating one of them, Andre Thomas' attorneys have been trying to appeal his death sentence due to his mental health: twice in the highest Texas court, in federal court and then Tuesday, they argued in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals.

"The acts Mr. Thomas committed are about as evil as you can commit," Grayson County Assistant District Attorney Kerye Ashmore said.

Andre Thomas was sentenced to death for murdering his 4-year-old son, estranged wife and her 13-month old daughter, stabbing and cutting all of their hearts out.

"It's as gruesome as you can get," Ashmore said.

Grayson County Assistant District Attorney Kerye Ashmore has been with this case from the day it began in 2004. He said Thomas was affected by excessive drug use and there's no doubt he is mentally ill, but his actions showed he was aware of what he did.

"There was a lot of evidence that he did know the conduct was wrong, he left the crime scene, he indicated when he heard the sirens, he began to run," Ashmore said.

Ashmore said Thomas also admitted to police and friends about what he did.

"Very, very sad, tragic case and it was a horrific case," Ashmore said.

Ashmore's prosecution eventually landed Thomas on death row in 2005.

Since then, Thomas' attorneys have been appealing the sentence. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied the appeal in 2010. Then a federal judge in 2016 rejected the appeal.

Tuesday, his attorneys took their case to the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for arguments on whether appeals can move forward.

"It was a difficult case to prosecute, I'm sure it was a difficult case to defend, any time you have dead children like this, and so we'll see how the court resolves this," Ashmore said.

News 12 reached out to attorney Don Bailey who is there helping with the defense argument in New Orleans. He said they are not able to comment on a pending case. Bailey said the opinion could take months to get back.