John Balentine (File)
HUNTSVILLE (August 22, 2012)--The U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday stopped the execution of John Balentine, 43, who was convicted of shooting three teenage housemates to death more than 14 years ago in Amarillo.
Balentine was scheduled to receive a lethal injection just after 6 p.m. Wednesday in Huntsville, but justices put the execution on hold until they resolve an appeal seeking a review of the case.
The reprieve came less than an hour before the former auto mechanic's scheduled execution.
It’s the third time in three years Baletine has won a last-minute reprieve.
He avoided lethal injection in September 2009 when a federal appeals court gave him a reprieve a day before his scheduled trip to the Texas death chamber and in June 2011, he was within an hour of execution when the Supreme Court issued a stay.
Balentine's lawyer argues his client had deficient legal help at trial and in earlier appeals.
The lawyer also said the case deserves review so jurors can consider his poor, abusive childhood before deciding punishment.
State attorneys opposed the appeal.