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Notorious death row inmate who gouged out his eyeballs and cut out hearts of his children seeks clemency

Texas Department of Criminal Justice

A notorious death row inmate in Texas with a past plagued by unimaginable violence and mental illness is seeking clemency. There are also nearly 200 faith leaders and mental health leaders calling on Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to stop the state execution of Andre Thomas.

Thomas is on death row for the grisly murder of his estranged wife and two children in March 2004 in Sherman, Texas. Thomas – who was 21 at the time – fatally stabbed his estranged wife, Laura Boren; their 4-year-old son, Andre; and his 13-month-old step-daughter, Leyha Hughes.

The Texas Tribune reported, "He ripped out the children's hearts and in a failed attempt to remove their mother's heart, removed part of her lung. After failing to also kill himself, Thomas put the organs in his pocket and walked home."

After a short stint at a state mental hospital, Thomas was deemed competent to stand trial.

The outlet added, "While awaiting trial in jail — days after surgeons repaired his bleeding heart — Thomas gouged out his right eye with his bare hand, spurred by Scripture: 'If the right eye offends thee, pluck it out.'"

Thomas was convicted of murder and sentenced to the death penalty after jurors rejected his insanity defense.

While in prison, Thomas attempted to slit his wrists and cut his own throat. In December 2008, Thomas enucleated his left eye. After gouging out his second eyeball, Thomas ate it in his prison cell. Thomas reportedly ate his own eyeball to prevent the government from seeing his thoughts.

Thomas is scheduled to be executed by the state on April 5.

The attorneys for Thomas argue that he suffers from severe mental illness and is not competent for execution. The attorneys say that Thomas first started hearing voices when he was 9 years old, first attempted suicide with he was 10, and was diagnosed schizophrenic at a "very young age."

Attorney Maurie Levin. said, "Gov. Abbott has the power to stop the spectacle of prison guards leading a blind, mentally incompetent, delusional man to the death chamber."

According to the Dallas Morning News, "The U.S. Supreme Court has made it unequivocally clear that the Eighth Amendment prohibits the execution of a person who is not competent — someone who doesn’t have enough of a connection to reality to understand why he is being put to death."

Over 100 faith leaders and 77 mental health professionals called on Abbott to give Thomas clemency.

"As a Texan and a Christian, I cannot imagine what good it does for us to kill a man who is so clearly mentally ill," said Stephen Reeves – executive director of Fellowship Southwest. "To kill him now would surely be cruel and unusual punishment. He is no threat to others behind bars, but his execution will only perpetuate violence and compound the injustice."

Rev. Jaime Kowlessar, a pastor from Dallas, said, "We pray that Gov. Abbott will choose the path of healing and grace by sparing Mr. Thomas’ life."

"It would be very troubling to execute Mr. Thomas at the exact time that the (Texas) House is once again considering exempting people like him from being executed," said Greg Hansch – executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness-Texas.

J. Kerye Ashmore of the Grayson County District Attorney’s Office stated, "A jury has spoken about what justice should be in this case. We are not going to ignore that."

Since taking office in 2015, Abbott has only granted clemency to one death row inmate.

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