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Updated Wednesday, March 18, 2009 9:40 PM

Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denies Thomas new trial

BY JERRIE WHITELEY

HERALD DEMOCRAT

Pulling out both of his eyes and eating one of them makes Andre Thomas "crazy" but not legally insane, according to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.

This week, the nine justices unanimously denied Thomas' request for a new trial.

"Although reasonable people might well differ on the question of whether (Thomas) was sane at the time he committed these murders or competent at the time he was tried, those issues were appropriately addressed by the defense, the prosecution, trial judge, and the jury during the trial," Judge Cathy Cochran wrote in her opinion. "This is a sad case. (Thomas) is clearly 'crazy,' but he is also 'sane' under Texas law."

Grayson County District Attorney Joe Brown said the ruling ends the state phase of Thomas' appeal of his death sentence. That appeal began in March 2005 after Grayson County jurors convicted Thomas of killing Leyha Marie Hughes, the daughter of Thomas' estranged wife, Laura Boren Thomas. 

Jurors also answered the special questions presented to jurors at the end of a capital case in a manner that caused Judge James Fry to sentence Thomas to death. Though prosecutors never tried him for their deaths, Thomas also admitted to killing Laura Boren Thomas and their son Andre Lee Boren.

In the days just after the March 27, 2004 murders, Thomas pulled out his own eye after quoting Bible scriptures in the Grayson County Jail. In December of 2008, Thomas pulled out his other eye and ate it while in a cell on Texas' death row.

"It is sometimes hard for people to understand that a person can be mentally ill, or as the Court of Criminal Appeals said, "crazy," and still be legally sane under Texas law," Brown said after hearing of the ruling.

"Andre Thomas knew what he did was wrong, and if the evidence supports that, and the jury finds that, he is guilty," Brown said. "Judge Cochran's opinion explains that very effectively. Many people in Grayson County don't care if he was crazy, insane, or anything else -- what he did to those kids and his wife deserves the death penalty," Brown said.

The Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by Thomas' attorney held out 44 instances from the trial that he said challenged Thomas' conviction and sentence.

The justices of the Texas Court of Appeals rejected each of those unanimously. They also rejected Thomas' motion to remand his case (return it to the trial court) or stay the proceedings until his attorney could develop further evidence about Thomas' mental illness.

Though the majority of the court issued only that brief statement about their decision, Cochran took 10 pages to outline her thought process in concurring with the Court's decision.

She said there "was ample evidence to reject an insanity defense and support a jury finding that (Thomas) knew that his conduct was wrong at the time he murdered his wife and the children. However, she also said, "There was also evidence that (Thomas) did not know that his conduct was wrong at the time. This was a quintessential fact issue for the jury to decide, and it did so."

She then stressed that Thomas' attorney did not point out, in the direct appeal or the Habeas application, that there was "overwhelming evidence that (Thomas) did not know that what he was doing was wrong as to make the jury verdict 'manifestly unjust.'"

She said there was no doubt that Thomas knew it was his wife and the children he was stabbing when he killed them. His belief that his actions were justified by the fact that he thought they were evil, she said, doesn't outweigh his knowledge of right from wrong.

"... religious fervor, whether the result of a severe mental disease or inspired by a jihadist fatwa or KKK rally, does not provide a legal excuse," Cochran said.

The appeal also said Thomas' trial attorneys Bobbie Peterson Cate and R. J. Hagood, were ineffective because they didn't request a second competency hearing.

Cochran explained that in March 2005, Texas law said a person is incompetent to stand trial if he doesn't have a "sufficient present ability to consult with (his) lawyer with a reasonable degree of rational understanding; or a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against (him)."

She said state and federal law have "intentionally set the threshold for competency very low." She said someone who suffers from a severe mental illness or who is overly medicated could still be competent if they can communicate clearly with their attorney and understand the proceedings against him.

Thomas could do that at the time that the trial began, Cochran said.




Comments ... 6 found!

: 3/28/2009
i wonder how much pain medication andre lee boren had when his own father plundged that knife in his chest?His father, andre thomas CHOSE to mix illegal drugs in his body to blame his acts on. to bash an innocent little girl's brain and we even think about arguing the "inhumane" act of the death penalty? My question is "why are we wasting ANY money on the person who chose to do this"? To think he threatened to cut out Laura's heart-and he cant be put to death for this?

Close But not Close enough

: 3/28/2009
well i think he deserves everything he is getting coming from a person who had to go through that first hand he deserves to die its called dealth row for a reason and believe me texas has and express lane for people who kill the ones they so call love. and if you think he is crazy you should obviously have your head examined, have you had to bury your own child? much less have you had to put your grandchildren in the ground with your child? i think not so before you go and think he was crazy read the facts that is if you can handle it. then you decide if you think he should die and if you dont think so then maybe your crazy.

from a family member

A Stupid Comment! : 3/23/2009
Sasha - what are you smoking? Please explain to us why this is "racial"? I actually did not know the man's ethnicity but, judging from your comments, I have a pretty good idea now. I am going to let you in on something here in case you somehow missed it: this man MURDERED his wife and kids! Maybe that has something to do with it and not his skin color! Pull your head out and let him own up to what he did! Why is it that when a white person or cop attacks (or tries to arrest) a black person it is ALWAYS racial and people like you want them in jail for life, BUT, when the perpetrator is black, then regardless of the crime (such as this MURDER) we should "try and get them help"!! What a croc!!!!

Just Facts

Disagree with Sasha : 3/20/2009
Not saying who this is but to quote Jesus himself. If anyone harms one of my little ones it is better for a millstone to be tied around his neck and cast into the sea!!

Someone who knows

: 3/20/2009
Who are we to decide who is insane or crazy? First anyone to purposedly kill innocent people and then one's self, IS insane under any law. This is racial and this man needs some spiritual help, not mental as everyone likes to do, but he needs God in his life. We don't find against flesh and blood, but against principalities, evil in high places. Wake up people!! He doesn't need to be put to death, he needs help. Vengeance is mine, thus sayeth the Lord. He will always have the last say.

Sasha

Awesome!!! : 3/19/2009
This guy is clearly a menace to society and it is time to put him out of his misery! Anyone who could MURDER his own family should not be cared for and supported by the law-abiding taxpayers who do nto do this sort of thing. Goodnight Thomas!

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