- Associated Press - Thursday, July 24, 2014

DALLAS (AP) - A jury sentenced a Dallas man to death a second time Wednesday for the 1986 killing of a Dallas civil rights attorney and his wife.

A Dallas County jury again sentenced Kenneth Wayne Thomas to die for stabbing Fred and Mildred Finch in their South Dallas home, The Dallas Morning News (https://bit.ly/1nkeyYe ) reported.

Thomas was tried in 1987 and sent to death row. But the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted the 53-year-old a new sentencing hearing, saying jurors had not properly considered whether he was mentally disabled.

A separate jury decided earlier this month that Thomas was competent to stand trial.

Attorneys Juan Sanchez and Brook Busbee said Thomas was happy about the verdict because he would have more appeals with a death sentence. They said they still believe he is incompetent and his reaction to the verdict showed it.

Thomas skipped a day of testimony last week and Sanchez said after the verdict that it was because he had smeared feces on himself. His attorneys argued that he was born in a car with his umbilical cord around his neck and suffered brain damage when he was attacked as a teenager. They told jurors a life sentence would not be a reward, simply an acknowledgement of his disability.

“You won’t be saying he’s innocent,” Sanchez said. “You won’t be saying he doesn’t deserve to be punished.”

But prosecutors said the crime was so atrocious that nothing in his life could offset a death sentence.

The family of the victims was not in court for the verdict. The couple’s son-in-law, who found their bodies, testified that his wife could not bear to discuss the case in public or private.

“What I saw that day should only be in a horror movie or in a war zone,” James C. Belt Jr. said in court. “Nobody should have to see that.”


Information from: The Dallas Morning News, https://www.dallasnews.com

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