October 15, 2012 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/
A convicted killer in South Florida, who claims to be the prince of god, is one step closer to being put to death.
John Errol Ferguson has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and despite his mental illness, Circuit Judge David Allen Glant ruled on Friday that the 64-year-old is still competent to be executed next week.
Ferguson has been on death row for 34 years, after he was sentenced to death in 1978 for killing eight people.
Ferguson was found guilty in the deaths of six victims, who were killed in a drug related, execution-style mass killing in Carol City in 1977.
He was also convicted of killing two teenagers on their way to a church meeting in 1978.
But Ferguson has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic and he believes is the anointed prince of god. His lawyers appealed his death sentence on the grounds that it is ‘cruel and unusual punishment’ for him to be executed given his mental state.
The United States Supreme Court has found that while the death penalty does not qualify as ‘cruel and unusual punishment,’ prohibited in the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, the execution of inmates that are mentally retarded is a violation of a person’s constitutional right.
But a judge ruled on Friday that despite the inmate’s history of mental illness, ‘there is no evidence that he does not understand’ that he will be put to death as a consequence for his crimes.
Glant also observed that Ferguson’s belief that he is the ‘Prince of God’ and expectation that he will have a place at the ‘right-hand’ of God following his death, are beliefs that are not ‘significantly different than beliefs other Christians may hold.’
Glant’s ruling upheld Florida Governor Rick Scott’s finding that the execution should proceed.
‘It is impossible to fathom that the State can constitutionally put to death a man who thinks he is the Prince of God and who believes he has a destiny of being the right hand of God and returning to purify earth,’ Handman, told the Miami Herald.
‘Nationally-recognized experts in neuropsychiatry and forensic psychology examined John and testified that he lacks a rational understanding of why he is being put to death,’ his lawyer added.
As the legal proceedings play out, the Supreme Court has issued a temporary stay of execution, which is scheduled for next Thursday.
But one of the victim’s family has said it is time for justice to be served.
‘Our tax dollars have been keeping Ferguson alive. Free food, medical care and the ability to communicate with his loved ones and lawyers,’ Michael Worley, whose sister Belinda was killed by Ferguson, said.
‘My sister was brutally killed at the age of 17. Her murder shattered our entire family. Life was never the same.’