Wednesday, July 2, 2008

North Carolina Inmate Found Incompetent for Execution

According to the Associated Press (and reported in the Times-News Online), a Superior Court judge has found Guy LeGrande incompetent for execution ("Judge: NC inmate too ill for execution," July 1, 2008). LeGrande has been on death row in North Carolina since 1996.

It is interesting to note that LeGrande was allowed to represent himself at trial, despite compelling evidence of his severe mental illness. The U.S. Supreme Court recently considered this issue in the case of Indiana v. Edwards and ruled that someone who is deemed competent to stand trial may not necessarily be granted the right to self representation. As with the case of Texas death row inmate Scott Panetti, who also was allowed to represent himself despite his extensive history of schizophrenia, Guy LeGrande's trial has been called "farcical."

Here's the article from the AP in full:

"A death row inmate who wore a Superman shirt and represented himself at trial is too mentally ill to be executed, a judge has ruled.

Stanly County Superior Court Judge Robert Bell ruled that Guy LeGrande, 49, was 'not competent to be executed' because he is psychotic and delusional, according to a ruling signed Friday but released Tuesday.

LeGrande was convicted and sentenced to death in 1996 for the 1993 shooting death of Ellen Munford in a murder-for-hire plot.

'The court has finally stepped in and halted a colossal miscarriage of justice, the execution of a seriously mentally ill man,' defense attorney Jay Ferguson said.

District Attorney Michael Parker, who didn't try the original case, said he hadn't received a copy of the ruling and couldn't comment. The state attorney general's office said it was reviewing the decision.

The ruling came nearly a year after the last hearing was held in LeGrande's case. LeGrande's execution is stayed until the state decides whether to appeal, and the murder conviction is not affected by the judge's decision.

The judge said LeGrande refuses to cooperate with his [current] defense attorneys, Ferguson and James Monroe, even to the point of sitting apart from them in court.

'The gross delusions stemming from Mr. LeGrande's severe mental disorder puts an awareness of a link between his crime and its punishment in a context so far removed from reality that the punishment can serve no purpose,' the judge wrote in his 10-page order.

LeGrande's defense lawyers said their client also claimed to communicate with television star Oprah Winfrey through the television. LeGrande also believed that he was getting a pardon and a financial settlement from the state.

Transcripts of the trial showed that LeGrande cursed the jury and said he would meet them in hell. At one point he told them to 'pull the damn switch and shake that groove thing.'

LeGrande had been scheduled to be executed Dec. 1, 2006, but the execution was halted to review LeGrande's mental state."

LeGrande will most likely remain on death row, unless the state agrees for his sentence to be commuted. In its Recommendation on the Death Penalty and Persons with Mental Disabilities, the American Bar Association states that

"If, after challenges to the validity of the conviction and death sentence have been exhausted and execution has been scheduled, a court finds that prisoner has a mental disorder or disability that significantly impairs his or her capacity to understand the nature and purpose of the punishment, or to appreciate the reason for its imposition in the prisoner's own case, the sentence of death should be reduced to the sentence imposed in capital cases when execution is not option." [Italics added]
Read more about Guy LeGrande on The Progressive Pulse, a blog sponsored by NC Policy Watch.

Additional coverage is available from the News & Observer.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

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