News from around the state of Texas

Decades Old Death Row Case Ends With Plea Deal

Inmate eligible for parole in 12 years

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    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.