april 19 source : http://www.delawareonline.com
WILMINGTON — A federal judge on Wednesday indefinitely delayed Friday’s scheduled execution of convicted killer Shannon M. Johnson, saying he needed more time to “digest” a massive legal filing by the Delaware Federal Public Defender’s Office, which is seeking to stop the lethal injection.
Johnson, 28, waived all his remaining appeals to speed his execution and was declared competent to waive those legal rights by Superior Court Judge M. Jane Brady last month.
However, federal defenders acting on behalf of Johnson’s sister, Lakeisha Ford, argue that Johnson is not competent due to mental illness and substandard intelligence and a state court competency review was flawed.
Johnson was convicted in 2008 of the murder of 25-year-old Cameron Hamlin. Hamlin’s father, Vandrick, was in the courtroom Wednesday and seemed taken aback by the turn of events.
Afterward, he was briefly speechless before saying that he was disappointed by U.S. District Chief Judge Gregory M. Sleet’s ruling to stay Johnson’s execution.
State prosecutors and Johnson’s court-appointed attorney, Jennifer-Kate Aaronson, also seemed stunned by the ruling and objected to the delay. Deputy Attorney General Paul Wallace described the lengthy brief filed by public defenders on Friday — six days before the execution — as a ploy designed “to ensure they get a stay.”
“It is Mr. Johnson’s view that he has been accorded all constitutional due process,” Aaronson told Sleet.
Wallace told Sleet that the state would appeal the issue to the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals.
The appeal seeking to reinstate Johnson’s Friday execution was filed with the Philadelphia-based appeals court several hours later. The 30-page motion to vacate the stay of execution filed with the appeals court mirrors the brief state prosecutors filed with Sleet on Monday, opposing the federal defender’s petition. It concludes that Sleet lacked jurisdiction to issue a stay because the state court’s finding that Johnson is competent was reasonable.
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