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A state appeals court has indefinitely delayed the Monday execution of Henry Lee Lucas, a one-eyed drifter who horrified the nation with claims of a cross-country murder spree.

Lucas, 54, was to die by injection early Monday for the 1979 rape-murder near Georgetown of an unidentified female hitchhiker nicknamed "Orange Socks" for the only item of clothing found on her body.But the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted a stay Thursday to give the court time to review issues raised by Lucas' attorneys.

Lucas once claimed he killed nearly 600 people in 26 states, including three in Utah. But he later recanted his confessions for all but one slaying, that of his mother.

Notified by telephone of the reprieve from his first execution date, Lucas "sounded kind of numb, probably because of the tension he was under," said Al Foster, an investigator with the law firm representing Lucas.

The court said it wanted more time to review Lucas' case in light of a 1989 Supreme Court decision involving jury consideration of "mitigating circumstances" that might sway them to sentence a convicted killer to life in prison rather than death. In Lucas' case, such a circumstance might be evidence he was abused by his mother.