Monday, March 23, 2009

Death row inmate loses appeal on mental illness

An article released by the Associated Press ("Death row inmate loses appeal on mental illness"), March 22, 2009 states that death row inmate Jeffrey Wood has had his mental illness appeal rejected by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Wood, who was merely an accessory to capital murder, came within hours of being executed last August but was allowed time to be tested for mental illness. Here is the full article: 

A Texas death row inmate who came within hours of execution has lost an
appeal. His lawyers argued in a federal appeals court that he's too
mentally ill to be put to death.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the appeal from Jeffery
Wood, 35, condemned for the January 1996 slaying of Kriss Keeran at a
convenience store in Kerrville, Texas.

Wood was convicted of capital murder even though he sat in the car outside
while his roommate, Daniel Reneau, fatally shot Keeran, 31. Under Texas
law, a participant in a capital murder is equally guilty of the crime.
Both men then robbed the store, taking more than $11,000 in cash and

Reneau was executed in 2002.

Wood was scheduled to die last August, but a federal judge delayed the
lethal injection hours before the execution so Wood could be tested to
determine whether he's mentally able to understand why he should be
executed. He does not have an execution date.

In the appeal to the New Orleans-based appeals court, Wood's lawyers
contended they needed a 2nd expert to examine Wood.

"Mr. Wood lacks a rational understanding of his death sentence and of the
reasons for his imminent execution," attorney Scott Sullivan said in his
motion filed earlier this week.

Prosecutors argued Wood already had an expert "of his own choosing."

Last summer, Sullivan said in a motion that he met with Wood and that the
prisoner told him he believed his trial judge was corrupt but would accept
a $100,000 bribe and then deport him to Norway where he could live with
his wife. Sullivan said Wood also believed the government will pay him
$50,000 a year once he's released and that he's willing to give that money
to the judge.

The U.S. Supreme Court has barred the execution of prisoners determined to
be mentally disabled, but that protection has not extended to those with
mental illness.

(source: Associated Press)

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