Andre Thomas is perfectly sane according to Texas prosecutors. The view has not changed despite his habit of pulling out his own eyes. Before his trial for murder in 2004, Thomas pulled out his right eye. Yet, despite a history of mental illness, he was viewed as sane under Texas standards. Now, while on death row, Thomas pulled out his remaining eye and ate it.
Texas has long been criticized for its refusal to accept manifest insanity as a defense as in the case of Andrea Yates. It is not alone in this position, here, but it is certainly the most notorious.
Thomas, 25, was convicted of killing his estranged wife, their young son and her 13-month-old daughter in March 2004. He ripped out the hearts of Laura Christine Boren, 20, , 13-month-old Leyha Marie Hughes ,and 4-year-old Andre Lee., but Texas prosecutors did not consider that problematic in terms of his sanity. After the murders, he went to a police station, told the police that he had killed his wife and kids and then stabbed himself in the chest. When he later tore his own eye out, it was treated as just another idiosyncrasy.
After being treated on Dec. 9th in Tyler, Texas, he was transferred to the Jester Unit, a prison psychiatric facility near Richmond southwest of Houston. Yes, they call their psychiatric hospital “the Jester Unit.” (even if this is someone’s name, might they have considered another option?)
The refusal of prosecutor, courts, and legislators in Texas to recognize obvious insanity undermines the credibility of its entire legal system. The insatiable desire to put such people to death has now overridden the most basic demand of a legal system to recognize the difference between someone acting in full control and someone who is acting out of an insane compulsion.
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