The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has reduced death row inmate Jose Martinez's sentence to life in prison after agreeing with his trial court's findings that the convicted killer of a Rio Grande Valley woman and her 4-year-old granddaughter is mentally impaired and ineligible for the death penalty.
The 39-year-old Martinez has been on death row more than 19 years for fatally stabbing 68-year-old Esperanza Palomo and her granddaughter, Amanda, during a 1995 burglary at her home in Mission in Hidalgo County. Martinez was 18 at the time. Amanda Palomo was partially blind and staying at her grandmother's house that night.
His lawyers argued in their appeal resolved Wednesday it would be unconstitutional to execute Martinez under a 2002 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that prohibits execution of mentally disabled people.