AP has, "Court blocks execution," from the Washington bureau.
A divided Supreme Court on Thursday blocked the execution of a Texas killer whose lawyers argued that he should not be put to death because he is mentally ill.
The court ruled 5-4 in the case of Scott Louis Panetti, who shot his in-laws to death 15 years ago in front of his wife and young daughter.
The convicted murderer says that he suffers from a severe documented illness that is the source of gross delusions. "This argument, we hold, should have been considered," said Justice Anthony Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion.
Panetti's lawyers wanted the court to determine that people who cannot understand the connection between their crime and punishment because of mental illness may not be executed.
The Eighth Amendment of the Constitution bars "the execution of a person who is so lacking in rational understanding that he cannot comprehend that he is being put to death because of the crime he was convicted of committing," they said in court papers.
Then-Justice Lewis Powell said 20 years ago that a person may not be put to death if he cannot perceive "the connection between his crime and his punishment."
More on the 1986 case of Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399 (1986), is here.