An ex-con convicted of killing a San Antonio man and stealing his prized motorcycle won a stay of execution Thursday when a judge in Houston agreed to new forensic tests.
Anthony Bartee, 54, had been scheduled for lethal injection Tuesday evening in Huntsville.
Bartee's lawyers argued in appeals that more DNA testing should be conducted on 2 strands of hair found in victim David Cook's hands. A third strand of hair was tested earlier and identified as belonging to the 37-year-old victim. Prosecutors argued the other 2 were scientifically insufficient for meaningful tests.
"What we're doing now is looking into which labs are capable of doing the testing in the shortest amount of time," Rico Valdez, an assistant Bexar County district attorney who handles capital case appeals, said.
State District Judge Mary Roman withdrew the execution warrant Thursday.
The night of August 16, 1996, a neighbor heard gunshots from Cook's home, then heard Cook's motorcycle fire up. When Cook failed to show up for work, concerned relatives went to his house and found his body. He'd been stabbed in the back, his throat was cut and he had two gunshot wounds to the back of his head from what would be determined as his own 9 mm pistol. Both the gun and his cherry red Harley were missing.
Court records show investigators determined that the night before the shooting, Bartee — who was on parole after spending almost 12 years locked up for 2 rape convictions — tried to hire someone to kill a man he identified as David. The day after the killing, he was seen with the motorcycle and told people it was his.
When police questioned Bartee, he said he was unaware of Cook's death. But when police told him they knew he had the Harley, he said he had been working on it in Cook's garage and took off after hearing gunshots because he feared for his own safety. He wouldn't acknowledge participating in the murder but didn't deny being present at the scene, according to court documents.
At his trial, defense attorneys tried to pin the slaying on two gang members Bartee identified only as "Snake" and "Throw Down."
Prosecutors said his story was a fabrication.
George Rivas, 41, is scheduled for execution on Wednesday. Rivas was the leader of the notorious "Texas 7" gang that escaped from a South Texas prison in 2000 in the state's biggest prison break ever and then killed a suburban Dallas police officer during a Christmas Eve robbery of a sporting goods store.