The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit ruling in Panetti v. Stephens is available in Adobe .pdf format.
"Panetti Sane Enough For Execution; At least for now, inmate cleared for death," is by Jordan Smith for the Austin Chronicle.
For the second time in nearly a decade, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that Scott Panetti, a schizophrenic sent to death row for a 1992 double murder, is sane enough to be executed. Whether that means Panetti is actually closer to a date with the executioner, however, remains to be seen.
Panetti was convicted and sentenced to death for the Sept. 8, 1992 slaying of his in-laws, Joe and Amanda Alvarado, at the couple's home in Fredericksburg. Panetti had been hospitalized in connection with his illness at least 11 times prior to the slaying and was last released just two months before he killed the Alvarados. When he turned himself into police the afternoon of the murders he told investigators that "Sarge," a recurring auditory hallucination, was responsible for the crime. Panetti was heavily medicated when deemed competent to stand trial, but by the time he actually went to court for the crime he was off his meds and insisted on representing himself, a request granted by Kerr County District Judge Stephen Ables. At trial, Panetti wore a purple cowboy suit and subpoenaed hundreds of witnesses, including Jesus Christ and Anne Bancroft. Despite his bizarre and disturbing behavior, he was ultimately convicted in 1995.
Since then, however, Panetti's case has made it's way to the U.S. Supreme Court twice as questions persist about whether he is actually sane enough to be executed. At issue, in part, is whether Panetti has "rational understanding" of why he is to be executed. Panetti has repeatedly acknowledged that the state says it intends to kill him for the murder of the Alvarados, but that he believes that is a ruse to hide a satanic plot to kill him in order to stop him from preaching the "gospel of the Lord King."
Still, when, or whether, Panetti will ultimately be executed is unclear. Because competency is fluid, what may appear to be malingering today may in fact be madness tomorrow.
Earlier coverage of Scott Panetti's case begins at the link.
The Supreme Court established standards to assess whether severely mentally ill inmates are competent to be executed in the 1986 case, Ford v. Wainwright; more via Oyez. More on the U.S. Supreme Court 2007 ruling in Panetti v. Quarterman is via Oyez.
Related posts are in the competency and mental illness category indexes. In April 2012, I added the competency category index. Earlier posts dealing with compentency are available under the Scott Panetti category index.