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New Orleans Appeals Court Delays Execution of Scott Panetti
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execution, Scott Panetti, Texas

Summary: Scott Panetti, a mentally ill man, had his execution delayed in the state of Texas by an appeals court in New Orleans. 

The execution of Texas killer Scott Panetti was halted by a federal appeals court in New Orleans on Wednesday morning, according to USA Today.


Panetti is mentally ill and his case sparked a debate nationwide over whether people with mental illnesses should be executed for committing crimes.

The lawyers for Panetti claim that he is too delusional to be executed and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has granted a reprieve for Panetti. He was supposed to be administered a lethal injection today.

To read more execution-related stories, click here.

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The court said the following in its ruling: it needed more time to “allow us to fully consider the late-arriving and complex legal questions at issue in this matter.”

There will be oral arguments scheduled in the case, according to the court. The ruling will not be fought by the Texas Attorney General’s Office.

Panetti’s execution was halted back in 2007 by the United States Supreme Court and called for a review of Panetti’s competency. The appeals court ruled in 2013 that Panetti was sufficiently competent to be executed.

The American Psychiatric Association has lobbied against the execution of Panetti. Paul Appelbaum is a member of the group and he said the following:

“This has been a long saga,” he said. “We’re not at the end of the story yet.”… His behavior, best we can tell, was driven by his illness rather than a deliberate act of criminal intent.”

To read more stories about the Supreme Court, click here.

In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court barred executions for people who do not know about their upcoming execution or why it is happening.

During his murder trial, Panetti acted as his own lawyer, dressed as a cowboy and called Jesus, John F. Kennedy and the pope to the stand as witnesses. Panetti has been hospitalized for delusions and psychosis more than a dozen times.

Panetti was sentenced to death for the murder of the parents of his estranged wife. Appeals were made by the European Union and the American Psychiatric Association to halt his execution, which had been scheduled for 6 p.m. today.

“This is a man that has been severely and profoundly ill since 12 years before the crime,” Ron Honberg, legal director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said prior to the execution delay being announced. “It will be a travesty to proceed with this execution.”

To read more about the National Alliance on Mental Illness, click here.

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Image credit: Associated Press


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