A man convicted and sentenced to death for the fatal beating and stabbing of a pizza delivery man in Amarillo more than 17 years ago has won an appeal that gets him off death row and reduces his sentence to life in prison, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled 6-3 that it agreed with a trial court judge who found convicted killer Gregory Van Alstyne mentally retarded and ineligible for execution under U.S. Supreme Court guidelines.
Van Alstyne, 41, was convicted of ambushing James Benton Atkinson Jr. in 1990 as the 41-year-old man tried to deliver pizzas. At the time of the slaying, Van Alstyne had been on parole seven days after serving about 11 months of a five-year prison term for robbery. In 2003, the appeals court sent Van Alstyne’s capital conviction back to the trial court after the Supreme Court barred execution of the mentally retarded.