Execution stopped for Dexter Johnson, sentenced to death after Harris County rape and murder

Texas Tribune News

Dexter Darnell Johnson.
Dexter Darnell Johnson.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice

The execution of Dexter Johnson, set for Thursday, was canceled by a federal judge Tuesday since he was recently assigned a new attorney who hasn’t had time to fully investigate his case, according to the ruling.

Johnson, 30, was sentenced to death after the 2007 deaths of Maria Aparece and Huy Ngo in Harris County. At 18, Johnson and four other teens carjacked and robbed the couple before taking them to a secluded area. According to court records, Johnson then raped Aparece before he and another teen shot them both.

In late state appeals, Johnson claimed he was intellectually disabled and therefore ineligible for the death penalty. That appeal was denied Monday. But on Tuesday, a federal court stopped his execution because it had only recently allowed him to get a new lawyer to look into other federal appellate issues.

The stay of execution only lasts for 90 days since the new attorney’s appointment. That 90-day period ends Monday but the county will have to issue a new warrant at that time for at least 90 days in the future to set another execution date.

This story is developing and will be updated.