HOUSTON -

A 43-year-old Mexican national on Texas death row for the beating death of a man at his Hill Country ranch near Kerrville almost 16 years ago has lost a federal court appeal, moving him a step closer to execution.

Attorneys for Ramiro Hernandez contend he was mentally impaired and ineligible for execution for the 1997 slaying of 48-year-old Glen Lich. The former Baylor University history professor was fatally beaten with a crowbar. His wife also was attacked but survived.

Hernandez, from Tamaulipas, Mexico, also argued he had poor legal help at his Texas trial, where he says evidence of a previous murder conviction and prison term in Mexico was improperly allowed.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected each argument.

Hernandez does not yet have an execution date.