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Longest Serving Death Row Inmate Is Resentenced

Raymond Riles is now serving a life sentence
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2021 2:24 AM CDT
Longest Serving Death Row Inmate Resentenced
This photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows Raymond Riles.   (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP, File)

Raymond Riles has been on death row for more than 45 years—longer than anyone else in the US. But no longer: On Wednesday, the 71-year-old Texas man was resentenced to life in prison, CBS DFW reports. Riles, who shot and killed used car dealer John Thomas Henry at a Houston car lot in 1974 after a dispute over a car, has a history of mental illness. Texas prosecutors found he is not eligible for execution, nor is he competent to stand for a retrial. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had in April tossed his death sentence because jurors did not consider his mental health history when he was originally tried, the Texas Tribune reported at the time.

District Judge Ana Martinez could not resentence him to life behind bars without the possibility of parole, because that sentence was not an option when Riles was convicted. So he is now eligible for parole, and an automatic parole review will be carried out by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, but the district attorney's office and Henry's family plan to oppose the issue if it appears Riles may be released. (Much more on the history of the case at CBS DFW.)

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