Prosecutor says Andre Thomas is competent for death penalty despite mental illness

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 6:00 PM CST
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SHERMAN, Texas (KXII) - The murder of Laura Thomas and her two children is a case prosecutor Kerye Ashmore can’t shake.

“I think it’s important to remember the brutality of these murders,” said Grayson County First Assistant District Attorney Kerye Ashmore.

A jury convicted Thomas of stabbing all three people to death and cutting their hearts out.

Since the incident in 2004, Thomas has taken out both of his eyes and eaten one of them.

His defense attorney argued he is too mentally ill for the death penalty to be constitutional.

“The question is, is he so mentally ill that he does not know his execution is imminent and why he is being executed?” said Ashmore. “That’s an entirely different question.”

Texas law requires competency for the death penalty, meaning the person must know he or she will be executed, it is imminent, and why.

“He was anxious about the U.S. Supreme Court, whether they were going to hear his case,” said Ashmore. “He’s indicated that he knows his execution date is in April. He’s also indicated that if the Supreme Court decided to execute him, he would stop taking his medication. These types of things that we’ve been able to find out indicate to me that he’s competent to be executed.”

Ashmore said Thomas’ defense could file a motion claiming he’s incompetent.

A judge would then have mental health experts do an examination.

“Unfortunately, so far, the defense has not filed that motion,” said Ashmore.

More recently, Thomas’ defense attorney put in a petition for clemency.

If granted, he is subject to the law that existed at the time of his crime.

In 2004, Ashmore said there was no such thing as life in prison without the option of parole.

“In the event that his sentence is commuted, he will be eligible for parole in twenty years basically when he’s 60, 61 years old,” said Ashmore.

“We’re here to see to it that the justice, as determined by a jury, as affirmed by all of the courts, that that is carried out.”

Andre Thomas’ Defense Attorney, Maurie Levin, sent the following statement to KXII:

“Andre Thomas is not competent to be executed.  For decades he has consistently experienced fixed auditory and visual hallucinations and delusions.  He removed both his eyes, and ate one.  Yet, even after he removed his first eye before trial, and after he removed his second eye, and ate it, the prosecution asserted that he was sane, and faking his mental illness.  Any sane person would see these assertions as ludicrous. It is also important to remember that, when Assistant District Attorney Ashmore points to the judgment of the jury, he fails to mention that that is the all white jury which included three people who were openly opposed to interracial relationships, and justified those beliefs with longstanding racial tropes. Hundreds of Texas and national faith leaders, and mental health professionals and organizations, believe Mr. Thomas should not be executed because of his severe and longstanding mental illness.  Guiding this blind psychotic man to the gurney for execution would be a gruesome - and unlawful - spectacle.”