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DA Kim Ogg: Texas' longest-serving death row inmate should get a new punishment hearing

Raymond Riles, 70, was convicted of capital murder for his role in the 1974 shooting death of John Henry in Houston.
371489 10: The Texas death chamber in Huntsville, TX, June 23, 2000 where Texas death row inmate Gary Graham was put to death by lethal injection on June 22, 2000. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Newsmakers)

HOUSTON — Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg expressed her support Monday for the state's longest-serving inmate on death row getting a new punishment hearing.

Raymond Riles, 70, is sentenced to die after he was convicted of capital murder in 1974. 

In a response filed with the Court of Criminal Appeals last week, Ogg agreed Riles is entitled to the same legal protections now afforded to defendants in 2021.

“Our prosecutors notified the crime victim’s son, and these cases are heartbreaking because the process takes so long that laws can and sometimes do change, and it just prolongs justice and healing for the families of the dead. Nevertheless, we believe the law requires a new punishment hearing for Riles,” Ogg said in a statement.

However, the decision ultimately remains with the Texas Court of Appeals under Texas law. Currently, the ruling is pending.

Riles, who was a truck driver at the time, and Herbert Washington were accused of fatally shooting John Thomas Henry, 31, while demanding a refund for a car they bought at the victim's car dealership, John Henry Motors.

Washington was also sentenced to death, but his sentence was overturned, and he later plead guilty to two related charges. He was given 50- and 25-year sentences.

“Death penalty law has evolved and now requires jurors to be able to meaningfully consider and weigh mitigation evidence about an offender such as childhood abuse and trauma,” Ogg said. “In 1976, Riles’ capital murder jury was not given this opportunity.”

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