Monday, August 18, 2008

More on George Banks Competency Hearing

The Citizens Voice, out of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, has this update on the competency hearing of death row inmate George Banks ("Final expert says Banks incompetent for execution," August 16, 2008):

"The psychological disorders that have turned mass murderer George Banks into a rambling paranoid have not improved since before he was scheduled to be executed in December 2004, psychiatrist Richard G. Dudley Jr. said Friday during the second day of testimony in Banks’ competency hearing.

Dudley, the third and final psychological expert called by Banks’ attorneys, said the killer’s psychosis and vast delusions have made him incompetent to be executed, to petition for clemency or assist his attorneys.

Banks, 66, went on a shooting spree in September 1982 that left 13 people dead, including four girlfriends, who ranged in age from 23 to 29, five of his children, ages 1 to 5, and four others. He has been on death row since June 1983.

Banks believes, 'Jesus from Washington, D.C.' vacated his sentence, but a conspiracy has kept him incarcerated at the State Correctional Institution here, about 30 miles northwest of Philadelphia, until he renounces God, Dudley said.

'The central theme of the delusions is that Jesus, (or) God has pardoned him and therefore there is no case against him,' Dudley said, echoing the testimony of the two defense experts who appeared Thursday — psychiatrist John O’Brien and forensic psychologist Jethro Toomer.

Dudley said Banks believes the state Department of Corrections would go to elaborate measures to push him to renounce his religious beliefs, including subjecting him to a simulated execution.

'He said Jesus has jurisdiction over his life, not man, not the courts,' Dudley said.

Those beliefs, combined with a rambling, unfocused and illogical thought process, make it impossible for Banks to comprehend the meaning and totality of his death sentence, Dudley said.

'As a result of this delusional system, he does not appreciate his death sentence,' Dudley said. 'The content of his delusions are directly related to his understanding of the crime and his punishment.'

Dudley evaluated Banks prior to his 2004 execution, which was stayed by a last-minute ruling from the state Supreme Court, and in April, in preparation for the competency hearing.

Dudley said Banks’ behavior during the April meeting prevented him from asking questions designed to gauge Banks’ understanding of his circumstances and possible execution.

'He blurted out various things,' Dudley said. 'I just stood there and listened to him.'

Jennifer Buck, an attorney with the state Attorney General’s Office, questioned how Dudley could determine that Banks is incompetent to face death without asking about the death penalty.

'You didn’t need to ask him?' Buck asked.

'Not again, no,' Dudley said.

'You only needed to ask him that once?'

'It would have been nice to ask him,' Dudley said. 'If he had been cooperative.'

The prosecution’s psychological experts, psychiatrists Timothy J. Michals and Stephen Mechanick, are scheduled to testify Monday.

Senior Judge Michael T. Conahan, who has presided over recent proceedings in the case, prevented Michals from testifying at a competency hearing in February 2006 after Banks’ attorneys said the psychiatrist met with Banks without their knowledge.

Conahan deemed Banks incompetent to be executed, but that decision was overturned on appeal by the state Supreme Court because the prosecution case had been compromised by the exclusion of Michals and the use of another expert, psychiatrist Michael Welner, who had little time to prepare.

In a September 2005 report, Michals said Banks had the competency to be executed.

'It is my opinion that although Mr. Banks has a psychotic disorder,' Michals said. 'He had sufficient mental capacity to understand that he has been tried, convicted and sentenced to death as a result of the death of 13 people.'

Read more about the Banks case here.


Brenda said...

Good for people to know.

Anonymous said...

I have no idea what the latest is on this guy, but after reading about the case, he should be put to death. No one asked if his kids and/or girlfriends wanted to die. Who gives a SHIT if he's competent enough to? He should go the same way he took.