The Palestine Herald, Palestine, Texas

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November 17, 2009

Board denies Simpson requests

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles has denied a pair of requests filed by attorneys representing Danielle Simpson, moving the condemned killer one step closer to execution on Wednesday.

The 30-year-old Simpson is scheduled to be executed sometime after 6 p.m. Wednesday in Huntsville.

On Tuesday morning, Anderson County District Attorney Doug Lowe told the Herald-Press that the Board, in two separate unanimous votes, denied requests that Simpson's death sentence be commuted to life in prison and that he alternatively be granted a 180-day reprieve to allow for further litigation of his case.

Simpson's new Houston-based attorneys, David R. Dow and Katherine C. Black, filed a three-page petition on their client's behalf late last month asking for the relief.

Dow and Black maintain that Simpson suffers from a "debilitating mental illness" and possesses "diminished intellectual functioning," rendering him incompetent to be executed.

Federal law prohibits states from executing mentally-retarded defendants.

Lowe said Tuesday that he expected Simpson's attorneys to make a last ditch effort to halt the execution Wednesday, perhaps by filing petitions in the Third State District Court, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals or both.

If those efforts fail, Simpson is scheduled to become the 22nd person in the state to be executed this year.

Harris County offender Gerald Eldridge was scheduled to die Tuesday night, but less than two hours before he was set to die won a reprieve from a federal judge.

Simpson was 20 when he and three other Palestine youths kidnapped 84-year-old Geraldine Davidson from her South Sycamore Street residence on Jan. 26, 2000 and ultimately tossed her into the frigid Neches River with her hands tied behind her back and a cinder block attached to her ankles.

Simpson's�death date was set by 87th State District Judge Deborah Oakes Evans this past August after he expressed a desire to expedite his execution rather than exhaust his entire range of appeals.

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