News 06.28.07

Supreme Court ruling halts execution of a mentally ill Texas prisoner

The Supreme Court ruled today that a man with severe mental illness is not eligible for execution in Texas. Scott Panetti, 49, suffers from mental delusions that prevent him from being able to understand the reasons for his execution. In a 5-4 decision, the Court found that Panetti’s execution would be a violation of the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Panetti was convicted and sentenced to death in 1995 for murdering his wife’s parents. He represented himself at his capital murder trial. The Supreme Court decision reversed a ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which found that Panetti’s execution could proceed. This is the fourth time this term that the U.S. Supreme Court has overturned a ruling by a Texas state or federal court allowing an execution to proceed. 

Find out more about Scott Panetti’s case and watch a documentary on the case commissioned by Texas Defender Services

here

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