Ries to die Tues. for Cumby murder

Board of Pardons and Paroles rejects last-minute appeal

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

Oct. 20, 2008 - Despite some last minute filings Friday, Joseph Ray Ries is still slated at 6 p.m. Tuesday, to be executed by lethal injection for murdering 64-year-old Robert Lee Ratliff at his Cumby home in February 1999.

Ries was 19 at the time of the burglary and murder, and has been on death row in Huntsville since November of 1999, when he was convicted of murdering Ratliff. His execution was initially slated for Sept. 18, but officials opted to push the date back to Oct. 21 instead of executing him on his 29th birthday.

Friday, Ries' appeal to Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles that they consider commutation of his death sentence to a lesser penalty, such as life in prison was denied. All seven members voted to "not recommend commutation."

James M. Terry Jr. with Ross Law Group in Austin, Ries' attorney, Friday presented 8th Judicial District Judge Robert Newsom with paperwork requesting a "motion to withdraw or modify order setting execution" and a "subsequent application for Writ of Habeas Corpus."

The motion to withdraw or modify the execution order and the subsequent application for a writ of habeas corpus challenge "the sufficiency of the evidence supporting the jury's answer of 'No' to the mitigation of special issue" during the trial, citing the June 11 ruling by Texas Criminal Court of Appeals in Williams v. State as sufficient cause for the state court to reconsider the habeas corpus request.

Terry's motion on Ries' behalf argues that "the current claims and issues have not been and could not have been presented previously in a timely initial application or in a previously considered application filed under this article [11.071] or Article 11.07 because the factual or legal basis for the claim was unavailable on the date the applicant filed the previous application."

The judge denied the motion to withdraw or modify order setting execution Friday afternoon.

Unless the U.S. Supreme Court opts to hear a request for an appeal or Ries is granted a stay or execution from the Governor's Office, Ries' appeals have been exhausted, and he will be injected with the three-drug lethal cocktail at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 21.

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