Death row inmate who ate his eye loses appeal

Jerrie Whiteley
Herald Democrat

Judge's findings, conclusions in Andre' Thomas' 2004 triple murder trial review to stand

Editor’s note: This article contains graphic information.

Andre Thomas lost his latest appeal of the death penalty verdict handed down for the killing of his ex wife's infant daughter in

Andre Thomas, the Sherman man who killed his own son, his former wife and her daughter in 2004, lost his most recent appeal last week. The  5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a federal district court decision denying Thomas an appeal of the facts and conclusions stated in the case by state District Judge Jim Fallon back in 2008.

The appeals court found that there was nothing in Judge Fallon's original review of the case that couldn't be supported by the record in the case when viewed, as the law requires, in deference to the judge's original ruling.

The horrific and bizarre case of Thomas’ trek through the quagmire of death penalty litigation began on March 27, 2004 when he broke down the door of the apartment belonging to his ex wife Laura Boren. From there, he fatally stabbed Boren, her infant daughter Leyha Hughes, and Andre Jr., the four-year-old son she shared with Thomas.

After killing the three, Thomas removed organs out of each of the bodies and took them with him. He then stabbed himself several times before returning to his own home where he talked with family and friends about what he had done. He later walked into the Sherman Police Department to turn himself in saying God told him to kill his former wife and her children.

While in the Grayson County Jail awaiting trial on a capital murder charge in the death of Leyha Hughes, Thomas pulled out one of his own eyeballs. He was convicted, sentenced to death in March of 2005 and sent to death row.

Four years later, Thomas removed his other eye and consumed it. As a result, he has not been housed at the state's death row but at the Beauford H. Jester IV Unit Psychiatric Facility, four miles east of Richman.  

Andre Thomas is escorted out of the Grayson County courthouse for the lunch break during his trial Wednesday afternoon.

Thomas' original appellate attorney asked the 15th District Judge who oversaw the case to review the case. Fallon did so and issued findings and conclusions.

Bailey then appealed those findings to the Court of Criminal Appeals which affirmed those findings and denied the appeal. Thomas' representation then appealed to the federal district court in Sherman which rejected all claims and the application for appealability, a proposal before a court that asks for permission to appeal an appeal. Thomas then filed with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for relief of that denial.

That court allowed Thomas' attorneys to address four issues: 

"(A) the jury was tainted with racial bias, and the state court unreasonably held that defense counsel provided effective assistance during voir dire; (B) the state court unreasonably held that defense counsel provided effective assistance despite their failure to challenge Thomas’s competency to stand trial; (C) the state court unreasonably held that defense counsel provided effective assistance despite their failure to present an expert in pharmacology to rebut the State’s evidence that Thomas’s psychosis was voluntarily induced; and (D) the state court unreasonably held that defense counsel provided effective assistance, despite their failure to prepare and present an effective mitigation case at sentencing."

The court denied Thomas relief on all of those items saying that there was enough evidence in the trial court record to find reasonable grounds for all of Fallon's findings and conclusions.

Judge Jim Fallon arrives for court in the Robert Allen murder trial where Timothy Barnum has been charged with murder. The trial continued April 9, 2021.

Additional information about recent court proceedings to be published in Sunday edition of the Herald Democrat.