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Decades Old Death Row Case Ends With Plea Deal

Inmate eligible for parole in 12 years

Thursday, Aug 2, 2012  |  Updated 3:29 PM CDT
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Decades Old Death Row Case Ends With Plea

AP

Execution gurney in death chamber at Huntsville, Texas.

One of Texas' longest-serving death row inmates has avoided execution for a slaying more than three decades ago with a sentencing agreement that makes him eligible for parole in 12 years.

Delma Banks arrived on death row in 1980 for stealing the car and fatally shooting a teenager six months earlier near Texarkana in far northeast Texas.

Banks long argued his trial for killing 16-year-old Wayne Whitehead was unfair, contending prosecutors withheld information that a witness during his punishment trial was a paid police informant.

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld 53-year-old Banks' conviction but agreed he should have a new punishment hearing.

The Texarkana Gazette reports the plea agreement was reached Wednesday.

In 2003, Banks got within 10 minutes of his scheduled execution before the Supreme Court stopped it.

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