"Supreme Court Blocks Texas Execution," is on the Fort Worth Star-Telegram website.
The U.S. Supreme Court blocked the execution of Texas inmate Scott Panetti Thursday, saying that the killer who appeared in court wearing a purple cowboy suit and a 10-gallon hat is so mentally ill he lacks a rational understanding of why he is being put to death.
Panetti, who acted as his own attorney and called as witnesses President John F. Kennedy, Pope John Paul II and Jesus Christ, was convicted in the 1992 slaying of his estranged wife’s parents in front of his wife and young daughter.
In a 5-4 decision, Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion questioned whether the Panetti’s execution serves any purpose since Panetti, who has been diagnosed as a schizophrenic, can't appreciate the connection between his crime and his punishment.
"The potential for a prisoner's recognition of the severity of the offense and the objective of community vindication are called into question," Kennedy wrote, "if the prisoner’s mental state is so distorted by a mental illness that his awareness of the crime has little or no relation to the understanding of those concepts shared by the community as a whole."
The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld his convictions, and he was scheduled to be executed in 2004 before U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks halted the execution so that his competency could be re-evaluated.
While Sparks agreed Panetti qualified for execution under the law, his ruling raised questions about the standard being used by the federal appeals court, saying the case arguably "required a more nuanced standard."
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