- Associated Press - Saturday, May 9, 2015

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) - A federal appeals court has refused to stop next week’s scheduled execution of a Houston man condemned for the slayings of his girlfriend, her mother and grandfather 13 years ago.

Derrick Dewayne Charles, 32, is set for lethal injection Tuesday.

Charles’ lawyers argued to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that he is mentally incompetent for execution and they need more time and money from the courts to pursue their case. State attorneys argue there’s no evidence Charles is incompetent and that the issue was addressed and rejected in earlier rounds of appeals.

An appeal related to the competency claim already is at the U.S. Supreme Court, which has ruled inmates facing execution must be aware their punishment is about to take place and understand why.

In its ruling late Friday, the 5th Circuit said even assuming Charles has some form of mental illness, no evidence in his appeal “shows that he does not know about his execution or that he does not rationally understand the reason for it.”

Charles was 19 and on parole in July 2002 when he was arrested a day after the bodies of 15-year-old Myiesha Bennett; her 44-year-old mother, Brenda; and 77-year-old grandfather, Obie, were discovered at their Houston home. Police found Charles at a Houston motel where Brenda Bennett’s car was found.

Relatives said she wasn’t happy about her daughter’s relationship with Charles, who had a lengthy juvenile record and was on parole from a three-year prison sentence for burglary.

He confessed to the slayings and at his May 2003 trial pleaded guilty to capital murder charges. A Harris County jury decided he should be put to death.

According to court documents, Charles said he smoked marijuana soaked in embalming fluid before the slayings, then hallucinated while committing the killings.

The execution would be the seventh this year in Texas, the nation’s busiest death penalty state.

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