The Federal District Court Order in Middleton v. Roper is available via Scribd.
"Missouri inmate's execution blocked over mental health concerns," is by Ed Pilkington at the Guardian.
A federal judge has blocked the impending execution of a death row inmate in Missouri, stating that there is substantial evidence that the prisoner is insane and incapable of understanding what was about to happen to him as he faced death by lethal injection just after midnight Wednesday morning.
Judge Catherine Perry of the US district court for the eastern district of Missouri issued a strongly worded ruling Tuesday morning in which she imposed a stay on the execution of John Middleton, 54, and ordered a full hearing to investigate his current mental health. Under the eighth amendment of the US constitution, it is forbidden to put to death any prisoner who is insane or who is unaware of the punishment they are about to suffer and why they are to suffer it.
The judge noted that Middleton, who was sentenced to death in the 1990s for three murders related to methamphetamine dealing, had a lengthy history of abusing the drug and that his mental health has deteriorated during the 17 years he has spent on death row. Fellow inmates had indicated in affidavits that Middleton “frequently talks to people who are not there, and tells stories that could not have any basis in reality”.
A psychiatrist who had examined Middleton also provided his expert opinion that the prisoner “lacks a rational understanding of the reason for the execution and is therefore not competent to be executed due to a diagnosis of delusional disorder, a psychotic mental illness”.
St. Louis Public Radio posts, "Citing Mental Health Concerns, Federal Judge Stays Missouri Execution," by Chris McDaniel.
"Middleton has provided evidence that he has been diagnosed with a variety of mental-health disorders and has received a number of psychiatric medications over the years," Judge Catherine Perry wrote in her order. "[Other] inmates indicate that he frequently talks to people who are not there and tells stories that could not have had any basis in reality."
Attorney General Chris Koster is expected to appeal the ruling to the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals -- a conservative court that has consistently refused or removed stays of execution in recent months.
It would be the state's sixth execution this year, despite the inmate's insistence -- and new evidence -- that suggests he is innocent.
Updated AP coverage is, "Federal judge grants stay in Missouri execution," via the Springfield News-Leader.
A federal judge on Tuesday granted a stay of execution for John Middleton, hours before he was scheduled to be put to death for killing three people in rural Missouri out of fear that they would tell police about his drug dealing.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry ruled that there was enough question about Middleton's sanity that a hearing should determine if he is fit to be executed. The U.S. Constitution prohibits executing the mentally ill.
In a separate ruling, the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals late Monday refused to halt the execution on Middleton's claim that he is innocent of the killings. That case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, said Richard Sindel, one of Middleton's attorneys.
"Judge Halts Murderer John Middleton's Execution Over Mental Health Concerns," is by Danny Wicentowski for River Front Times.
In the decision, the judge writes that "This is not a conclusion that he is actually incompetent, it is only a conclusion that he is entitled to a hearing on the issue," though she notes evidence of Middeston being diagnosed with "a variety of mental health disorders" as well as his long history of drug abuse. She adds:
"The affidavits he provided from other inmates and from the counsel who have dealt with him indicate that his mental state has deteriorated over the 17 years he has been incarcerated. The inmates indicate that he frequently talks to people who are not there, and tells stories that could not have had any basis in reality."
Earlier coverage of John Middleton'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. The Court revisited the issue in its 2007 ruling in Panetti v. Quarterman, also via Oyez.