Anthony Haynes had been set to die for the shooting death of Sgt. Kent Kincaid, 40, while the officer was with his wife driving in their own vehicle not far from home.
Their SUV had been struck by an object from a pickup truck, cracking its windshield. When Kincaid got out to talk to the people in the truck and told them he was a police officer, he was shot in the head.
The high court issued its brief two-paragraph ruling about 2 1/2 hours before Haynes could have been taken to the death chamber.
The order said only that the execution was stopped so the justices could consider whether to review the case.
If they chose not to review, the reprieve would be lifted, the court said.
"God told me I will not die on death row," an ecstatic Haynes said from a tiny cell a few steps from the chamber. "He gave me the faith to believe the impossible. He put some things in my path to keep me focused. God proved himself to be faithful. He delivered me from the death chamber. To God be the glory."
-- Bill Miller
From earlier ....
Anthony Haynes had already lived a lifetime of trouble by the time Houston police Sgt. Kent Kincaid caught up with him one night in May 1998.
Prosecutors a year later would show that Haynes threatened people during an outburst at his high school nurse's office, that he assaulted his 3-year-old sister, tried to kill the family dog and used a shower curtain rod to attack a staff member at a hospital where he was being treated for explosive disorder and marijuana dependence.
He even put a gun to the head of his father, a Houston arson investigator, prosecutors said.
Then on that night in May, Haynes and his buddies were shooting at vehicles to get motorists to stop so they could rob them, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors would also show that Kincaid, who was off duty and riding with his wife, stopped the 19-year-old troublemaker, but while reaching for his badge, Haynes reached for a gun.
Read more in this report by The Associated Press.