Appeals Court Stops Texas from Killing Mentally Ill Inmate

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A federal appeals court stayed Scott Panetti's execution hours before the convicted killer, who is mentally ill, was  scheduled for lethal injection. - ACLU
  • ACLU
  • A federal appeals court stayed Scott Panetti's execution hours before the convicted killer, who is mentally ill, was scheduled for lethal injection.


A mentally ill Texas inmate who shot and killed his in-laws in 1992 won't be executed today.

Scott Panetti, a diagnosed schizophrenic, believes he is being executed for preaching the gospel, not for the brutal murder he committed in front of his estranged wife and child years ago.

"We STAY the execution pending further order of the court to allow us to fully consider the late arriving and complex legal questions at issue in this matter," the federal appeal's court order states.

Panetti's lawyers argue the man is mentally ill and the law requires the court to provide funding for access to an investigator and mental health expert to assist in his case.

"He asks this Court to stay his execution, currently scheduled for December 3, 2014, and remand the case with instructions to the district court to appoint counsel and authorize funding. In the alternative, the Court should issue a stay of execution in the interest of justice so that the Court can give the important and complex issues in this case the thoughtful deliberation they deserve," a December 1 brief states.

The stay was granted only eight hours before Panetti was scheduled for lethal injection.

"His lawyers argued that he was too mentally ill to qualify for capital punishment, and they sought the delay so Panetti could undergo new competency tests. They noted that he acted as his own attorney during trial—dressed in a purple cowboy outfit—and tried to subpoena more than 200 witnesses, including the pope and Jesus Christ," the Associated Press reported.

There is widespread support that Panetti shouldn't be executed due to his mental illnesses.

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