HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) — A man dressed in black and wearing a hood and gloves kicked in the door of a San Antonio apartment where his drug supplier lived, attacked two people inside with a knife and fled, only to return because he dropped his car keys in the struggle.

By the time TaiChin Preyor tried to flee a second time, police had arrived and arrested him covered with the blood of his victims. He later said he was acting in self-defense when he stabbed and slit the throat of 24-year-old Jami Tackett and wounded her boyfriend.

This undated photo provided by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice shows Taichin Preyor. Texas’ highest criminal court and a federal judge have refused to stop this week’s scheduled execution of Preyor, the convicted killer of a woman in San Antonio in 2004. Preyor is set for lethal injection Thursday, July 27, 2017, in Huntsville, for killing 24-year-old Jami Tackett during a break-in at her apartment. Tackett is described in court documents as a drug dealer and the 46-year-old Preyor as a customer and dealer. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice via AP)

The 46-year-old Preyor was set for lethal injection Thursday evening in Tackett’s killing more than 13 years ago. It would be the fifth Texas execution this year and the 16th nationally.

Preyor’s attorneys hoping to halt his execution argued in appeals that his previous trial and appeals lawyers “failed him at every turn” and that he deserves a reprieve so he can get a more fair appeals review. They say an inexperienced attorney from California with little knowledge of Texas law took on his appeal and relied on a disbarred attorney for assistance. His trial attorneys were deficient for not uncovering evidence and telling jurors of Preyor’s traumatic and abusive childhood, his lawyers argued.

State attorneys said the late appeals were legally improper and that it was Preyor’s decision to stay with the inexperienced lawyer. Also, the name of the disbarred lawyer never appears on any court documents in his case and he wasn’t precluded from assisting Preyor’s lawyer even if he was disbarred, the Texas attorney general’s office said. His trial attorney handling punishment during the trial disputed the claim of a cursory investigation, saying Preyor’s friends and relatives never shared evidence of childhood abuse.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted 6-0 Tuesday against recommending clemency for Preyor and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals refused to stop the punishment. Preyor’s lawyers took their case to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals after a federal judge in San Antonio also declined to halt the execution.

Testimony at Preyor’s trial showed Tackett recognized Preyor on Feb. 26, 2004, when he barged into a bedroom, calling him by his nickname “Box.” He attacked her boyfriend, who escaped to a neighbor’s apartment and called for help. Evidence showed Preyor, also a drug seller and user since adolescence, then stabbed Tackett and cut her throat.

Tackett died before paramedics arrived but was able to tell police “the guy who ran from the apartment did this,” John Economidy, Preyor’s lead defense attorney, recalled this week.

“He is caught at the scene, and the dying declaration did not help us a whole lot,” Economidy said.

Preyor, in the second of two statements to San Antonio police, said Tackett and her boyfriend attacked him and that he “poked” at Tackett with a knife to protect himself.

“I felt like I was a victim,” he said. “I was the one being robbed, and I defended myself.”

A Bexar County jury decided he should die.

Michael Graczyk

Associated Press