30-year-old Michael Rosales was scheduled to die by lethal injection in Huntsville on Tuesday evening for the murder of an elderly woman nearly seven years ago, but a New Orleans Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals halted the execution.
"I'm sorry for what I've done," said Michael Rosales nearly seven years ago as he was escorted out of the Lubbock County Courthouse. He turned himself in for brutally murdering 67-year-old Mary Felder in her Four Seasons apartment nearly seven years ago.
Rosales broke into her apartment and was looking for something to steal when Felder woke up. Rosales stabbed her more than 130 times and ran. It is said Rosales confessed to the murder.
In 1998, jury members of Judge Brad Underwood's court convicted Michael Rosales of capital murder. He was given the death penalty. Rosales has been on death row for six years. And now on judgment day, just hours before he was to be executed, a New Orleans Fifth District Court of Appeal granted him temporary stay.
Lubbock District Attorney Bill Sowder says Rosales's execution has been delayed after years of failed attempts to appeal his case. Rosales is claiming he's mentally retarded.
Just two years ago a U.S. Supreme Court ruled it's "cruel and unusual punishment" to execute the mentally retarded. A case that didn't exist at the time Rosales was convicted of capital murder.
"So now it (the case of his mental retardation) will come to the federal court right here in Lubbock and then I'm sure the appeal would be taken from that court back to New Orleans. Then the Fifth Circuit Court would have to rule on it," said Sowder.
Meanwhile, Sowder says it could take months, maybe even a year before Rosales knows if he will die or if he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.
According to mental experts who testified to the U.S. Supreme court in 2002, mental retardation is considered those who have an IQ of 70 or below.