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Longest-serving death row inmate gets granted a new hearing

HARRIS COUNTY – The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has tossed out the death sentence of a man who had been awaiting execution for 45 years.

Earlier this year, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office asked criminal judges to consider a new punishment for Raymond Riles after he shot and killed a man in Harris County in 1974 and tried to rob him.

Since he’s been in TDCJ for the past 45 years Riles has been diagnosed with serious mental illness according to his attorney Theo Posel. She noted during his trial, back in 1985 he set himself on fire in his cell and required four months of treatment in a burn unit.

Riles’ capital murder conviction still stands.  The next step is to re-sentence him.  She says the only option would be a life sentence or the death penalty.  She is turning her efforts into a life sentence.   She says because of his mental illness, Riles is incompetent to be executed and to stand trial. He could be parole eligible as his sentence is determined by the law at the time of the crime, before Texas had a life without parole. 

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