The Supreme Court blocked the death penalty yesterday for Scott Panetti (pictured above, with his sister Jacki), a mentally ill Texan. From the AP:
The justices ruled 5-4 in the case of Scott Louis Panetti. He was convicted and sentenced to death for shooting his in-laws in front of his wife and young children in 1992.
Panetti suffers from delusions, a condition that his lawyers say keeps him from comprehending the reason or purpose of his death sentence.
Panetti’s attorney applauded the decision and reiterated his belief of the inhumanity in imposing the death penalty on the mentally ill:
“To kill such a person serves no purpose and offends our sense of decency and common humanity.”
Prior to the murder of his in-laws, Panetti was hospitalized 14 times in 11 years. When he represented himself in court, he wore a purple cowboy suit and wanted to subpoena JFK and Jesus. Amnesty International opposed the imposition of the death sentence for Panetti, and their call for human rights has just barely managed to squeak by in the Court.
From the Save Scott Panetti website:
Gregory W. Wiercioch, a staff attorney with Texas Defender Service who argued the case before the Supreme Court in April, hailed the decision. He said, "The Supreme Court today reaffirms the wisdom of a legal principle nearly a thousand years old, that the execution of persons like Scott Panetti serves no purpose and offends our sense of decency and common humanity."