Northeast Texas man scheduled to be executed for 1993 murder

Billy Joe Wardlow

The state of Texas is preparing for its first execution since the COVID-19 pandemic brought the world to a halt, nearly four months ago. 

Billy Joe Wardlow, 45, is scheduled to die Wednesday for the 1993 murder of Carl Cole during a robbery at his home in Cason, an unincorporated community in Northeast Texas. Prosecutors said the killing was part of an attempt to steal a pickup truck and cash from the man’s home. They say that Wardlow admitted to the crime in a letter to the county sheriff, but testified in his 1995 trial that he didn’t intend to kill Cole.

The 45-year-old's initial execution date of April 29 was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. If carried out, Wardlow would be the third person to be executed in the state of Texas this year and the seventh in the United States.

Last week, Wardlow's attorney Richard Burr filed a petition urging the Supreme Court to commute his sentence to life in prison or stay his execution. He is arguing that at the time Wardlow killed Cole, his brain had not fully matured.

They cited advances in neuroscience research that a person's brain continues to develop until they are in their 20s. He was 18 when the murder was committed.

Wardlow’s execution is scheduled after 6 p.m. inside the death chamber of the Huntsville “Walls” Unit.