The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ordered two men removed from death row Wednesday, ruling they are mentally retarded and ineligible for execution. The court ordered the sentences for Walter Bell Jr., and Alberto Valdez reduced to life in prison, but some of the judges worried Bell, the longest serving death row inmate, could be paroled, reports the Associated Press.
Bell, 50, has been on death row for 29 years, more than any other Texas prisoner and one of the longest in the nation, for the slayings of Ferd and Irene Chisum at their Port Arthur home. School records as early as 1963 listed Bell, born in Louisiana, as mentally retarded with an IQ in the mid-50s, well below the 70 IQ generally accepted as the threshold for retardation. Valdez, 49, was condemned for the 1987 slaying of Corpus Christi police officer Joseph Bock. After a high-speed chase, Valdez took Bock’s revolver and shot him four times.