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Escape From Death Row

A knife was the weapon used to kill a Houston man in 1983. Now the killer, who was to be executed for the crime, is instead about to walk out of prison. CBS News Correspondent Maureen Maher reports.

On death row in Huntsville, Texas, you're not supposed to get out alive. But Calvin Burdine is planning on doing just that.

He's been on death row since 1984, when he was convicted of murder, a crime he denies committing.

But last September, a judge ruled that Burdine had not been adequately represented and must be re-tried or released within 120 days.

Burdine claims his court appointed attorney, Joe Cannon, slept through most of his trial.

But the Texas attorney general failed to set a new trial date and in the middle of an interview with CBS News came the answer to Burdine's prayers. A federal judge ruled that Burdine must be released within five days.

Stunned, the convicted murderer could hardly believe the news.

"It's the greatest day of my life, because I'm going to get to hug my Momma," said Burdine.

The last time he got that close to his mother was in August of 1987, that's when he was given his last meal, said goodbye to his mother, only to have his stay of execution granted one hour before he was to be put to death.

Burdine isn't home free yet. The Texas Attorney General's Office filed an appeal to keep him locked up until a new trial date is set but, for now, Calvin Burdine says he is making plans to go home next Monday.

Hours after Burdine was ordered released, Texas executed 31-year-old Odell Barnes by lethal injection Wednesday for a 1989 murder.

Barnes, who was supported by European groups opposed to the death penalty, which proclaimed his innocence, was pronounced dead at 6:34 p.m (7:34 p.m. EST), six minutes after a fatal mix of chemicals was pumped into his arms.

He was sentenced to die for the Nov. 29, 1989, robbery and murder of neighbor Helen Bass in Wichita Falls, Texas. She was raped, beaten, stabbed and shot in the head during a robbery of her home.

Texas Lt. Gov. Rick Perry, standing in for Gov. George Bush, who was campaigning out of state for the Republican presidential nomination, sealed Barnes' fate when he denied a 30-day reprieve.

Barnes was the 10th person put to death this year in Texas and the 209th since the state resumed capital punishment in 1982, six years after the Supreme Court scrapped a national death penalty ban.

Since Governor Bush, a death penalty supporter, took office in January 1995, 122 people have been executed. He has commuted a death sentence to life in prison in only one case.

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