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Texas Executes Beunka Adams After Fifth Circuit Lifts Stay

By Robyn Hagan Cain on April 27, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

After a rollercoaster week of appeals, Texas Death Row inmate Beunka Adams was executed by lethal injection on Thursday in Huntsville.

Though U.S. District Judge Michael Schneider granted Adams a stay of execution on Monday, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals vacated the stay on Wednesday. The Supreme Court rejected Adams' appeal on Thursday, hours before he was executed, reports The Associated Press.

Adams and Richard Cobb were both sentenced to death row for killing Kenneth Vandever during a 2002 convenience store robbery. Adams and Cobb abducted Vandever and two women from the store and Vandever was fatally shot. The women also were shot, and one of them was raped, according to the AP.

Adams, who was 19 when he committed the crime, has been appealing his conviction, both through state and federal habeas petitions, for years. In his most recent appeal, filed on April 13, Adams claimed that he was entitled to habeas relief based on the Supreme Court's recent decision in Martinez v. Ryan. (In Martinez, the Court held that ineffective state post-conviction counsel may provide cause in a federal habeas proceeding to excuse the defendant's failure to challenge the ineffectiveness of his trial counsel.)

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals found that "the Martinez decision is simply a change in decisional law and is 'not the kind of extraordinary circumstance that warrants relief under Rule 60(b)(6),' and concluded that Adams's 60(b)(6) motion is without merit." The court vacated the stay and allowed the execution to proceed.

Before his execution, Beunka Adams said "Everything that happened that night was wrong ... If I could take it back, I would. ... I messed up and can't take that back," reports the AP. His death was the fifth execution in Texas this year.

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