John Balentine (pictured) is a Texas death-row prisoner who was sentenced to death in 1999 for a triple murder. He had been scheduled for execution on February 8, 2023, but a temporary reprieve has been granted. His appellate attorneys have presented numerous instances of racial bias that may have affected the proceedings in his case.

During Balentine’s trial, his attorneys passed handwritten notes among themselves essentially predicting a “LYNCHING” and rhetorically asking whether this might be a “justifiable LYNCHING.” Balentine’s appellate attorneys have argued that such overt use of race-laden terminology, especially in a case with a Black defendant and three white murder victiims, exemplified racial animus that permeated throughout the case.

Balentine’s attorneys also argued that the prosecutor’s strikes of two Black prospective jurors—which resulted in an all-white jury—were racially discriminatory. Furthermore, the jury foreperson used racist epithets, indicated he despised interracial relationships, and told his fellow jurors that a life sentence was “not an option” and that sentencing Balentine to death was “biblically justified.” During deliberations, he intimidated the other jurors who had expressed opposition to the death penalty.

Ballentine received a stay of execution because his attorneys were not properly notified of his execution date. The stay is being challenged by the state.