AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - A Texas judge, acting on requests from prosecutors, halted the planned execution on Wednesday of a man known as the “tourniquet killer” for the grisly method used to murder five girls and young women in the Houston area whom he also raped.
The order from Harris County Judge Maria Jackson to put a 90-day stay on the execution was issued a few hours before Anthony Shore, 55, was set to be put to death by lethal injection at the state’s death chamber in Huntsville at 6 p.m. (2300 GMT).
District attorneys in Harris County, which includes Houston, and neighboring Montgomery County, requested the stay to examine Shore’s claim that another death row inmate tried to persuade him to take the blame for a murder for which the other inmate had been convicted.
Courts previously rejected appeals from Shore to spare his life based on arguments that he suffered from brain damage and that his execution would violate constitutional protections, court documents showed.
Shore’s killing of the five girls and women occurred in the 1980s and 1990s. He strangled his victims with handmade tourniquets, the Texas Attorney General’s Office and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said.
The crimes went unsolved for more than decade until Shore was arrested for sexually molesting two girls who were relatives and his DNA was put on file as a sexual predator, the offices said.
The DNA was tested a few years later against cold-case files and turned up to be a positive match in at least one case. He was questioned by authorities and confessed to raping and murdering five girls and women, they said.
He was convicted in 2004 and sentenced to death.
His victims included Maria del Carmen Estrada, who was raped and her nude body left in the drive-through of a Dairy Queen in 1992, the Harris County District Attorney’s Office said.
Shore’s other victims included 14-year-old Laurie Tremblay who was killed in 1986, a 14-year-old girl he killed in 1993, 9-year-old Dana Rebollar who was killed in 1994, and 16-year-old Dana Sanchez killed in 1995, they said.
“(He is) a true serial killer, a person deserving of the ultimate punishment,” Kim Ogg, the Harris County district attorney, said in a statement.
Separately, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Wednesday halted the planned Oct. 26 execution of Clinton Young to examine claims he was convicted because of false testimony.
Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Tom Brown and Peter Cooney