The Texas court of criminal appeals ordered Wednesday that a man convicted of killing an 11-year-old Fort Worth girl be removed from death row.
In a three page decisionthe Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled with a vote of 6 to 3 that Juan Ramón Meza Segundo does not meet the requirements to be executed due to an intellectual disability according to a recent Supreme Court standard.
the appellate court reformulated his death sentence to life in prison with possible parolethe only alternative capital murder sentence available in Meza Segundo’s sentence decided in 2006 by a Tarrant County jury.
He was arrested almost 19 years after the crime 1986 when a DNA match linked him to the unsolved Fort Worth murder of 11-year-old Vanessa Villa. The girl was raped and strangled in her house while her family was running errands.
Between the girl’s death and Meza Segundo’s arrest, the defendant raped and killed two more women, according to a statement from the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office.
The girl’s relatives created a petition on the Change.org site to call for the sentence to be reversed again to the death penalty for Meza Segundo.
Courts had rejected Meza Segundo’s lawyer’s appeals until the Supreme Court changed intellectual disability standards in 2017, meaning earlier rejections were based on “an unconstitutional standard,” the state appeals court said.
The court stayed Meza Segundo’s execution scheduled for October 10, 2018, five days before it occurred. Under the new sentence, Meza Segundo could be eligible for parole as soon as 2026, according to a statement from the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office.