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6th Texas execution delayed as attorneys cite pandemic

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FILE – This Oct. 9, 2014, file photo shows the gurney in the the execution chamber at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester, Okla. Oklahoma is planning to resume executing death-row inmates, five years after lethal injections were put on hold following a series of death-chamber mishaps, state officials announced Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki, File)

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — A sixth scheduled execution of a Texas death row inmate has been delayed following the coronavirus spread around the state.

Edward Lee Busby’s execution had been set for May 6, but it was stayed for 60 days by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals on Monday.

Busby, 47, was condemned for the 2004 suffocation of a retired 77-year-old college professor abducted in Fort Worth and whose body was later recovered in Oklahoma.

While the appeals court didn’t mention COVID-19 in its order, Busby’s attorneys had argued the execution should be delayed because they and others, including judges and personnel who carry out the execution, could be put at risk for getting the virus if it proceeded.

Three other executions that had been scheduled this year were also delayed by the appeals court while two others were delayed by local judges.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death. The vast majority of people recover.

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