Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stops an execution because of coronavirus

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John Hummel. Texas Department of Criminal Justice

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday halted an execution set for this week due to the new coronavirus.

The state’s high criminal court ordered that Wednesday’s execution, set for 44-year-old John Hummel, should be delayed “in light of the current health crisis and the enormous resources needed to address that emergency.”

Hummel’s lawyer had requested a stay of execution in a unique court filing Friday because of the spread of COVID-19 and the state's disaster declaration, but Tarrant County officials opposed it.

In 2011, a Tarrant County jury sentenced Hummel to death after the 2009 murders of his pregnant wife, his 5-year-old daughter and his father-in-law. Police found their burned, beaten bodies after responding to a fire at their home in the early morning, according to court records. They were determined to have died by blunt force injuries in or near their beds before the fire was set.

Hummel approached police at his home hours after first responders arrived. In his first interview with police, he said he had gone to the store, but he later confessed to stabbing and beating his wife before beating the other two and setting fire to his house, records show.

This story is developing and will be updated.