Friday, March 28, 2008

Scott Panetti Deemed Competent to Be Executed

AFP reports that Judge Sam Sparks once again has found Scott Panetti competent to be executed ("Schizophrenic death row man in Texas on path to execution," March 27, 2008). The judge ruled that Panetti possessed sufficient rational understanding of the reason for his execution. Panetti believes that the state seeks his execution in order to prevent him from preaching the gospel in prison.

Here's the article:

"A schizophrenic inmate in Texas is again on the path to execution after a federal judge pronounced him sufficiently rational to understand why he has been sentenced to death.

In 1986 the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a convict could be executed only if that person realized that he or she was going to die, and understood why.

Scott Panetti, 50, was sentenced to die for a double homicide he acknowledged having committed.

But the Supreme Court in June blocked his execution and ordered judges in Austin, Texas to determine if Panetti realized that he was to be executed as punishment for the murder of his in-laws.

Federal Judge Sam Sparks in Austin, Texas gathered evidence from experts, prison cell mates, prison guards, and friends and relatives of Panetti to better understand the convict's mental state.

'Panetti was mentally ill when he committed his crime and continues to be mentally ill today,' read Sparks' opinion, issued Wednesday.

'However, he has both a factual and rational understanding of his crime, his impending death, and the causal retributive connection between the two.

'Therefore, if any mentally ill person is competent to be executed for his crimes, this record establishes it is Scott Panetti,' Sparks wrote.

In September 1992, Panetti, who had previously been hospitalized for serious schizophrenic problems, murdered his parents in-law.

A judge ruled that he was competent to stand trial, and he was allowed to represent himself in the case.

Dressed as a cowboy, in his trial Panetti called on Jesus Christ, the late U.S. president John F. Kennedy and the late Pope John Paul II as witnesses. His statements were laced with delirious and incomprehensible monologues."

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