"Judge to decide if Michael Overstreet is competent to be executed," is by Tim Evans of the Indianapolis Star.
Convicted killer Michael Dean Overstreet, likely the next Indiana death row inmate in line to be executed, will be in court this week in an effort to escape that fate.
St. Joseph Superior Court judge Jane Woodward Miller will preside over a four-day hearing that begins Tuesday in South Bend on claims by Overstreet’s attorney that his client is not competent to be executed.
The Indiana Supreme Court last fall granted Overstreet’s request for a new hearing on whether he is competent to be executed for the 1997 killing of Kelly Eckart, 18, of Boggstown. Attorneys for the state had opposed the request for the new hearing, and instead asked the court to set an execution date.
In court documents, Overstreet's public defender Steve Schutte said mental health professionals have determined the convicted killer “does not have, and does not have the ability to produce, a rational understanding of why the State of Indiana plans to execute him.”
"Doctor’s evaluation: Killer doesn’t know what death means," is the Daily Journal report by Steve Garbacz.
Due to his illness, Overstreet isn’t able to comprehend that a lethal injection would lead to death and what death means, so he can’t be executed under federal law, Dr. Rahn Bailey said in a report for Overstreet’s defense.
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.
More coverage from Indiana is in the preceding post.