Page last updated at 10:37 GMT, Saturday, 4 April 2009 11:37 UK

Woman helps in death row reprieve

Cathy Walters
Mrs Walters has prompted a Youtube campaign

A prisoner in the US who was due to be executed in three days has been granted a reprieve after an internet campaign by a woman from Worcestershire.

Cathy Walters has campaigned on behalf of Jose Briseno, 51, who was convicted of murdering a sheriff in May 1991 and is on death row in Texas.

A Texan court has agreed that because of his learning difficulties and other factors his case should be reviewed.

Mrs Walters, of Malvern, said his sentence should be commuted to life.

'Vital help'

"We're not asking him to be suddenly let free onto the streets," she told BBC News.

"All we're asking for is what we here have in Britain, which is that someone just has a life sentence."

Mrs Walters said she started to write to him when a car accident left her unable to work, and she got involved in a charity two years ago.

She has also prompted an international campaign via Youtube.

Jose Briseno
Briseno was jailed in 1991

Dick Burr, Briseno's lawyer, said she managed to persuade a Texan judge to delay the original sentence date so she and her husband could visit Briseno in January this year.

He said her help had been vital.

"If Cathy had not insisted on trying to see Jose, then Jose would be dead now," he said.

In a statement Mr Burr confirmed the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals had granted a stay of execution.

He said it was to consider whether Mr Briseno's jury was allowed to give "appropriate effect to mitigating evidence of childhood deprivation, abandonment by his parents, limited intellectual functioning, alcoholism and drug abuse, and lifelong poverty introduced on his behalf in the penalty phase of his trial."

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