US Lawyers File Appeal for Suspension on Execution of Schizophrenic Inmate

The lawyers for Scott Panetti, an inmate suffering from schizophrenia who is to be executed on Wednesday, have asked the US Supreme Court to reconsider his case after the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles voted against delaying the execution by lethal injection.

Panetti, who in 1992 killed his in-laws and kidnapped his wife and three-year-old daughter in Texas, seems to be running out of options to escape his date with the executioner.

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles unanimously voted against delaying Panetti’s execution for 180 days on Monday and also denied a request by Texas Governor Rick Perry to commute the sentence to life in prison.

After the Texas parole board’s rejection, Panetti’s lawyers filed a reprieve letter with Governor Perry asking him to issue a 30-day suspension and also asked the US Supreme Court to stop his execution on the grounds that he was severely mentally ill.

Their third recourse was the New Orleans-based 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals with jurisdiction over Texas where the lawyers have filed an appeal for a suspension until Panetti was subjected to an examination.

During his 1995 trial, Panetti defended himself dressed as a cowboy and tried to call more than 200 witnesses including former President John F. Kennedy, Pope John Paul II and Jesus Christ.

Moreover, he pinned the crimes on his alter ego “Sarge”. Since then he has been hospitalised for psychosis and delusions on multiple occasions. Several organisations, led by the American Psychiatric Association, as well as doctors, religious leaders and lawyers have requested clemency for the convict.

Even Panetti’s ex-wife, Sonja Alvarado said in 1999 in a sworn statement that he “suffers from a mental illness and should not be executed”.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking for Panetti, who will be executed on Wednesday evening in the Huntsville Prison if none of the three options to defer his death is successful. (IANS)


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