Speed Reads

death penalty

Diverse coalition opposes execution of mentally ill convict in Texas

Death penalty opponents, conservative Republican judges, mental health organizations, and Ron Paul have all asked Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) and the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole to grant clemency for Scott Panetti, a mentally ill convict scheduled to die Wednesday.

Coalition notwithstanding, Panetti's fate now appears to rest in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, as the Texas Board of Pardons and Parole voted 7-0 against recommending clemency. Panetti was first diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1978, and was convicted of capital murder after he shaved his head, put on fatigues, and shot his second wife's parents in 1992 while in a psychotic rage, Mother Jones reports. During his trial, Panetti represented himself, wearing a purple cowboy suit to court. He applied for subpoenas for JFK and Jesus Christ, and blamed the murders on his alter ego, Sergeant Iron Horse.

Even Panetti's ex-wife is asking that he not be put to death as he is "deeply sick." Panetti's lawyers have asked the high court to review his case to see if putting a mentally ill person to death violates the Eighth Amendment. They also say that Panetti — who is said to believe there is a listening device inside of his tooth — hasn't had a mental competency hearing in seven years. If he is put to death, Panetti will be the 11th inmate executed in Texas during 2014.