Mental illness

TEXAS – UPCOMING EXECUTION JULY 16 – Clifton Williams at 6 p.m EXECUTION HALTED !


JULY 16. 2015

The Texas Court of Appeals has halted the execution of a death row inmate just hours before he was set to be killed.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — The Texas Court of Appeals has halted the execution of death row inmate Clifton Lamar Williams on Thursday just hours before he was set to be killed.

“This is a subsequent application for a writ of habeas corpus filed pursuant to the provisions of Texas Code of Criminal Procedure Article 11.071 § 5 and a motion for a stay of execution,” the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas order read on Thursday.

The Court of Appeals said that it approved William’s appeal application, which is now returned to a trial court for a review on its merits before a final decision is determined.

In a brief order, the court agreed to return the case to the trial court in Tyler to review an appeal from Williams’ attorneys. They want to examine whether incorrect FBI statistics regarding DNA probabilities in population estimates cited by witnesses could have affected the outcome of Williams’ trial.

“We need time to look at this,” said Seth Kretzer, one of Williams’ lawyers. “No way we can investigate this in five hours.

“It requires some time, and the CCA saw that.”

 

July 10, 2015

East Texan Clifton Williams heads to the gurney next Thursday, July 16, after nine years spent on death row for the murder of Cecelia Schneider.

Williams, 31, was 21 years old at the time of Schneider’s murder, July 9, 2005. Court records show that he broke into the 93-year-old’s Tyler home, stabbed, strangled, and beat her, then laid her body on her bed and set her bed on fire. He left Schneider’s house with her car and her purse, which contained $40. He argued at trial that his friend, Jamarist Paxton, forced him to break into the house with him, and coerced him into cutting his hand so as to leave his DNA on-scene. But police weren’t able to find any evidence that would substantiate Williams’ claims about accomplices, and Paxton denied involvement. In Oct. 2006, Williams was found guilty of capital murder (in addition to a number of other offenses) and sentenced to death.

Williams’ attorneys have argued in state and federal petitions for relief (as well as a petition for a Certificate of Appealability) that Williams suffers from a wide range of mental illnesses, including paranoid schizophrenia, with which he was diagnosed when he was 20. They have tried to argue that his mother suffered from mental illness, and that Williams had trouble functioning from an early age. They also claim Williams was the victim of incompetent counsel, as attorneys at trial failed both to establish Williams as the victim of mental illness and to mitigate his standing as a future danger to society. Most notably, his petitions for relief note, trial counsel erred by stating their intent to establish mental illness before Williams received a court-ordered psych exam, giving prosecutors the ability to refute counsel’s claims without any established medical standing.

Last September, attorneys Seth Kretzer and James Volberding presented Williams’ case to the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes that the Justices would hear Williams’ mental illness claims. Specifically, records note, they wanted to prove that one ruling – ex parte Briseño, which lays out three basic conditions to determine competence – blocks Williams from arguing mental retardation on the basis ofAtkins v. Virginia (which placed a categorical ban on executing the mentally ill, and was previously rejected by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals). The Supreme Court denied that petition in early April, however, without comment or explanation. Williams’ attorneys do not plan to file any last-minute appeals.

Williams will be the 10th Texan executed this year, and 528th since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1976. However, his execution coincides with emerging reports that indicate the number of Texans being sent to death row has now significantly decreased. In fact, jurors around the state have yet to sentence anyone to death in 2015. The last person to receive such a sentence was former Kauf­man County attorney Eric Williams (no relation), who shot and killed Chief Assistant District AttorneyMark Hasse on Jan. 31, 2013, before killing County D.A. Michael McLelland and his wife Cynthia two months later. He was sentenced to death last Dec­em­ber. It’s the first time in more than 20 years that the state has made it to July without issuing a new death sentence.

Execution Watch with Ray Hill
can be heard on KPFT 90.1 FM,
in Galveston at 89.5 and Livingston at 90.3,
as well as on the net here
from 6:00 PM CT to 7:00 PM CT
on any day Texas executes a prisoner.

With Death Penalty, How Should States Define Mental Disability?


march 3, 2014 (npr.org)

Twelve years after banning the execution of the “mentally retarded,” the U.S. Supreme Court is examining the question of who qualifies as having mental retardation, for purposes of capital cases, and who does not.

In 2002, the high court ruled in Atkins v. Virginia that executing “mentally retarded” people is unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment. But the justices left it to the states to define mental retardation.

Now the court is focusing on what limits, if any, there are to those definitions.

The case before the court involves the brutal murder of Karol Hurst, who was 21 years old and seven months pregnant when she was kidnapped, raped, and killed by Freddie Lee Hall and an accomplice.

Hall was sentenced to death, but after the Atkins decision, his lawyers challenged the sentence. They cited multiple diagnoses of Hall as having a mental retardation and quoted the state supreme court as having previously declared that Hall had been “mentally retarded his entire life.” The state court, nonetheless, subsequently upheld Hall’s death sentence on grounds that his IQ tests averaged higher than 70.

Hall appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, where the question Monday is whether states can establish a hard statistical cutoff in these cases.

Florida’s statute, as interpreted by the state supreme court, sets the definition of developmental disability at an IQ score of 70 or below. With anything higher, the defendant cannot put on other evidence to show he is intellectually disabled. Moreover, the state does not allow use of the standard error of measurement that is deemed inherent in IQ tests.

Hall’s various test scores added up to an average of more than 70, but no more than 75, meaning that he would qualify as having a disability if the state had used the standard five-point error of measurement. Without that statistical norm, however, Hall’s lawyers were barred from putting on any other evidence of disability — for example, school records that consistently identified Hall as being mentally retarded.

“Florida’s position is inconsistent with the views of all the mental disability organizations and professional organizations that are involved in the definition of mental retardation,” says Jim Ellis, a longtime advocate for people with mental disabilities. He has also filed a brief in the case.

Allowing states to redefine “mental retardation” in defiance of professional standards, he argues, is nothing more than a way to undo the Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling.

But the state of Florida counters that the Supreme Court did not require any particular clinical definition. Rather, the court relied on what it deemed to be a national consensus that executing mentally disabled people is cruel and unusual punishment. And Florida argues that national consensus is not necessarily the same as a clinical definition.

“The line separating ‘retarded’ from ‘not retarded’ is itself arbitrary,” says Kent Scheidegger, legal director of the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation. “It is itself a matter of convention and not science.” Scheidegger has filed a brief in support of Florida’s position.

Florida is one of only five states that have set an inflexible line for determining intellectual disability in capital cases. The others are Alabama, Kentucky, Virginia and Idaho, and the results there have been stark. Only two claims of mental retardation have been successful in those states since 2002, according to a Cornell University study. That’s about 2 percent, compared to a 28 percent success rate in the other 45 states.

EU Calls For Moratorium On Death Penalty After Florida Schizophrenic’s Execution


8/8/2013 9:12 AM ET

The European Union has called for a global moratorium on capital punishment in the wake of the execution of John Ferguson in the US State of Florida.

The 65 year-old man was executed on Monday at Florida State Prison despite a plea by mental health organizations to stop it, saying that executing Ferguson would violate the Eighth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which requires an individual to have a rational understanding as to why they are being executed.

A plea by Ferguson’s lawyer calling for the execution to be commuted, mentioning a 40-year history of paranoid schizophrenia, was turned down.

He was convicted in 1978 of first-degree murder after going on a pair of killing sprees. Ferguson shot to death six people execution-style during a drug-related home robbery north of Miami and then six months later, killing two teenagers after they left a church meeting.

EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Ashton on Wednesday said “The European Union recognizes the serious nature of the crime involved and expresses its sincere sympathy to the surviving family and friends of the victims.” However, the High Representative said “EU opposes the use of capital punishment in all cases and under all circumstances.” She called for a global moratorium as a first step towards its universal abolition. “With capital punishment, any miscarriage of justice, from which no legal system is immune, represents an irreversible loss of human life,” the statement added.

FLORIDA – mentally ill death row inmate gets stay of execution – FERGUSON


october 21,2012 http://www.globalpost.com

John Errol Ferguson will add another week to the 34 years he has been on death row in Florida. The convicted mass killer was granted a stay of execution by a federal judge on Saturday. 

Defense attorneys have argued for decades that Ferguson is mentally ill and that putting him to death would be “cruel and unusual punishment”.

He execution was originally scheduled for Tuesday

“The issues raised merit full, reflective consideration,” the court said when US. District Judge Daniel T. K. Hurley granted the motion for a stay.

Ferguson’s attorneys told AP that the court will hear three hours of arguments on his habeas corpus petition on Friday. His lawyers are arguing that Ferguson is unfairly on death row because the court used an old and outdated definition of competency.

They contend that Ferguson is insane and that a 2007 US Supreme Court ruling prohibits the state from executing him, reports AP. 

“In order for the state to execute him, Mr. Ferguson must have a rational understanding of the reason for, and effect of, his execution,” Chris Handman, an attorney for Ferguson, told AP in an emailed statement.

“A man who thinks he is the immortal Prince of God and who believes he is incarcerated because of a Communist plot quite clearly has no rational understanding of the effect of his looming execution and the reason for it.”

Ferguson was convicted of the July 1977 murders of six people during a home-invasion robbery, reports the Miami Herald.  He was convicted separately of posing as a police officer and murdering two teenagers in January 1978.

Ferguson has had a long history with mental illness and crime. In 1971, he was declared psychotic and incompetent by a court-appointed doctor years before his first murder, reports the Tampa Bay Tribune.

“He is completely paranoid. A schizophrenic,” Handman, whose law firm, Hogan Lovells, has represented Ferguson pro bono for more than 30 years, told the Miami Herald.

“When you meet him, he is deeply suspicious of your motives. He has a very tenuous grasp on reality.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Federal appeals court denies insanity plea for Okla. death row inmate – GARRY ALLEN THOMAS- EXECUTED 6.10 P.M


October 18, 2012

 A federal appeals court has refused to halt the execution of an Oklahoma death row inmate who claims he is insane. 

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals handed down the ruling Thursday in the case of 56-year-old Garry Thomas Allen.

Allen is scheduled for lethal injection Nov. 6. Allen was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for the November 1986 shooting death of his fiancee, 42-year-old Lawanna Gail Titsworth, outside a children’s day care center in Oklahoma City.

Last month, a federal judge rejected Allen’s request for a hearing on his claim that he is mentally incompetent and ineligible for the death penalty. Allen’s defense attorney, Randy Bauman of the Federal Public Defender’s Office, declined to comment on the appellate court’s decision.

  • Garry T. Allen  Execution Date: February 16, 2012 – Stay Issued Until March 17, 2012 , again delayed  april 12 STAYED

BACKGROUND

I write here the summary of this case, march to april 2012 if u dont know this case 

Summary of Offense:

Allen pleaded guilty in the 1986 shooting death of his ex-girlfriend Gail Titsworth in Oklahoma County. He was convicted in 1987. Titsworth had broken off the relationship with Allen three days before the killing and had sought a protective order. She was picking up her two sons at a child-care center when Allen shot her four times. He then struggled with a police officer and was shot in the head. Allen spent months in mental hospitals after his arrest to be treated for depression and his head injury. He was deemed competent at a 1987 hearing but won a new competency hearing in 1997 after the Supreme Court ruled that Oklahoma’s competency standards were too high. In the subsequent hearing, Allen was again ruled competent.

april 11, 2012 BREAKING NEWS 

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – A federal judge in Oklahoma City has stayed the execution of an inmate who was diagnosed with schizophrenia but found sane by a jury that considered whether he was eligible for the death penalty.

Fifty-six-year-old Garry Allen is scheduled to die by injection on Thursday. Allen pleaded guilty to capital murder after being shot in the head during his November 1986 arrest. He killed 24-year-old Gail Titsworth, with whom he had children, outside a daycare where she had picked up her sons days after she moved away from Allen. An officer shot Allen after he tried to shoot the officer.

In 2005, the state Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-1 to commute Allen’s sentence to life in prison, but Gov. Mary Fallin had decided to allow the execution to proceed.

april 10, 2012 source http://muskogeephoenix.com

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) – Members of an anti-death penalty group said Monday they have little hope that Gov. Mary Fallin will commute the death sentence of an Oklahoma inmate scheduled to be executed Thursday.

Three members of the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty met with Fallin’s general counsel, Steve Mullins, to urge the governor to reverse her decision to deny clemency for Garry Thomas Allen, 56.

Allen’s attorneys contend he was mentally impaired when he killed 24-year-old Lawanna Gail Titsworth, the mother of his two children, on Nov. 21, 1986, in Oklahoma City. They say he had been self-medicating for an underlying mental illness, and that his mental condition had worsened.

Coalition board member James T. Rowan said the group does not expect Fallin to change her mind about clemency. He said Mullins indicated during the meeting that Allen’s clemency request “was a close case.”

“I’m satisfied that the governor has gone through an exhausting process,” Rowan said.

A spokesman for Fallin, Alex Weintz, confirmed the group met with Mullins and discussed Allen’s case. Weintz said Fallin appreciated their input but that there was no change in the status of the case.

“The execution is still scheduled for Thursday,” Weintz said.

Fallin denied clemency for Allen on March 13, but the coalition asked her to reconsider based on the state Pardon and Parole Board’s 4-1 recommendation in 2005 that Allen’s death penalty on a first-degree murder conviction be commuted to like in prison.

“That is a very exceptional factor,” said Rex Friend, another coalition board member.

Allen was shot in the face during a struggle with police after Titsworth’s shooting death and his attorneys said he was not competent to enter a blind plea of guilty to the murder charge.

Former Gov. Brad Henry never acted on the board’s 2005 clemency recommendation for Allen because a Pittsburg County judge issued a stay of execution after a prison psychological exam determined Allen had developed mental problems on death row. The doctor’s report noted Allen had dementia caused by seizures, drug abuse and the gunshot wound.

A 12-member jury was impaneled in 2008 to determine Allen’s sanity. Jurors rejected Allen’s argument that he should not be put to death and decided he was sane enough to be executed.

Friend said Fallin went through a long and detailed process that included meetings with prosecution and defense attorneys in the case before she made her decision to deny the Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation. Rowan said Allen’s execution could still be blocked if prison officials believe he is not mentally competent.

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April 6, 2012 source :http://www.therepublic.com

OKLAHOMA CITY — As activists prepare to argue for clemency for a man scheduled to die next week, a death penalty expert said a blind guilty plea such as Garry Allen’s is unusual in Oklahomacapital murder cases.

Allen’s attorneys have argued that he was mentally impaired when he entered a blind guilty plea to a capital murder charge. Allen was shot in the head during his 1986 arrest, and he had a history of mental illness and alcohol abuse prior to the killing.

Activists on Monday plan to ask legal counsel for Gov. Mary Fallin to consider clemency for the 56-year-old man, who is scheduled to be executed Thursday.

Considering Allen’s apparent combination of mental illness and alcohol abuse, he shouldn’t have entered a blind guilty plea — a plea done in front of a judge without a deal — especially in a state where the death penalty is popular, said defense attorney James Rowan, a death penalty expert who does not represent Allen.

Allen has testified that he pleaded guilty to spare his family and his victim’s family from the ordeal of a trial.

His lawyers had argued he was not sane and therefore shouldn’t be executed, but in 2008, a jury said he was sane enough for the death penalty.

A personality test in Allen’s court file shows his “probable diagnosis is Schizophrenic Disorder, or Anxiety Disorder in a Paranoid Personality.” Allen, who had a history of substance abuse, had also testified that before the day of the killing, he got drunk whenever he could. Two hours after the killing, Allen’s blood-alcohol level was .27— more than three times the legal limit.

Considering Allen’s apparent combination of mental illness and alcohol abuse, he shouldn’t have entered a blind guilty plea — a plea done in front of a judge without a deal — especially in a state where the death penalty is popular, said defense attorney James Rowan, a death penalty expert who does not represent Allen.

Attorney Charles Hoffman, another expert on death penalty cases, said a blind guilty plea could be the result of the defendant’s insistence, “bad or lazy lawyering” or a strategy to argue the defendant acknowledged guilt when a conviction is sure to happen.

“Although entering a blind guilty plea in a death penalty case may sound like a very dumb thing to do, it really all depends on the facts of the case,” Hoffman said.

In the 42 capital murder cases that Rowan has tried, only two defendants entered blind guilty pleas — once because Rowan was “young and didn’t know any better.” In the other case, in 1989, a man killed five people in a multi-state spree, including a woman in an Ardmore, Okla., flower shop.

Rowan knew the case would be hard to win and decided to plead to the judge.

“It would almost be malpractice now to do it,” Rowan said. “Even if the defendant wanted to enter a guilty plea, I think you’d be almost incompetent to do that.”

In 2005, the Pardon and Parole Board voted 4-1 to recommend life without parole instead of execution for Allen, but Fallin has decided to proceed with the execution.

Fallin has said she and her legal team gave Allen’s case a thorough review, and she has no plans to change her decision.

Allen shot 42-year-old Lawanna Titsworth four days after she moved out of the home where she lived with Allen and their two sons, according to court documents. Titsworth and Allen had fought in the week before the shooting and he had tried to convince her to live with him again.

An officer in the area responded to a 911 call. Allen grabbed his gun and struggled with the officer, according to court documents. Allen tried to make the officer shoot himself by squeezing the officer’s finger on the trigger, but the officer got control of the gun and shot Allen in the face.

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March 14,2012

OKLAHOMA CITY

Governor Mary Fallin has denied clemency for Garry Thomas Allen, an Oklahoma death row inmate who killed the mother of his two children in 1986.

On February 9, 2012, Governor Fallin granted a stay of execution of thirty days from February 16, 2012, the date of the scheduled execution of Allen, in order for this office to thoroughly evaluate the recommendation of clemency by the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board.

The Governor met with the Federal Public Defender’s office, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office and the victim’s family about this case.

The Executive Order, Fallin states, “Having thoroughly reviewed the arguments and evidence presented in this case, I have determined that clemency should be denied, and that the sentence of death shall be carried out.”

The Governor has granted an additional twenty-six day stay thereby scheduling the execution on Thursday, April 12, 2012.

Allen was convicted for killing 42-year-old Lawanna Gail Titsworth on November 21, 1986, in Oklahoma City.

Read the full Executive Order HERE.

Article 5/4/08

Death row inmate deemed sane

A Pittsburg County jury has determined that a death row inmate is sane enough to be executed, but it’s uncertain when the punishment will be carried out.

On a 9 to 3 vote, a panel of 11 men and one woman rejected Garry Thomas Allen‘s argument that he shouldn’t be put to death for the fatal shooting of Lawanna Titsworth because he had become insane while in prison.

An Oklahoma County jury convicted the 52-year-old Allen of first-degree murder for gunning down in November 1986 outside an Oklahoma City daycare center. Titsworth had moved out of the home she shared with Allen and their 2 sons 4 days before her death.

According to court documents, the 2 were arguing when Allen reached into his sock, pulled out a revolver and shot her twice in the chest.

Titsworth got to her feet and ran toward the center, but Allen shoved her down some steps and shot her in the back twice.

An Oklahoma City police officer responding to the call tussled with Allen before shooting him in the face.

Prosecutors are now considering what to do next.

Okla. court dismisses death row inmate’s appeal

A condemned Oklahoma inmate who insists he is insane lost a legal challenge Thursday when an appeals court determined there is no procedure under state law to contest a jury’s finding that he is sane enough to be executed.

The Court of Criminal Appeals handed down the decision against Garry Thomas Allen, 55, who was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for the Nov. 21, 1986, shooting death of 42-year-old Lawanna Gail Titsworth, the mother of Allen’s two children.

A district judge in Pittsburg County issued a stay one day before Allen scheduled execution in 2005 after a psychological examination at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary indicated Allen had developed mental problems while confined on death row. The U.S. Constitution forbids the execution of inmates who are insane or mentally incompetent.

According to state legal guidelines, a 12-member jury was impaneled in 2008 to determine Allen’s sanity. Jurors rejected Allen’s argument that he should not be put to death and decided he was sane enough to be executed.

Allen appealed, but in a six-page decision the appeals court concluded the appeal was not authorized by law and that there is no procedure to appeal a finding that a person facing execution is sane.

The decision, written by Vice Presiding Judge David Lewis of Lawton, says there is no federally mandated right to an appeal in Allen’s case and that the state Constitution does not mandate an appeal. In addition, the Legislature has not created a statutory appeal process for sanity proceedings, the appellate court said.

“It is, however, clear what the procedure should be when a person facing execution is found either insane or sane after a jury trial, and that procedure does not include an appeal to this court,” the ruling states.

Despite the decision, it remains unclear when Allen’s execution will be carried out. Attorney General’s Office spokeswoman Dianne Clay said attorneys plan to evaluate the decision before asking the appeals court to schedule a new execution date for Allen.

Allen’s attorney, Kristi Christopher of the Oklahoma Indigent Defense System, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

An Oklahoma County jury sentenced Allen to death for shooting Titsworth in the parking lot of the Oklahoma City daycare center. She had moved out of the home she shared with Allen and their two sons four days earlier.

Court documents indicated the two were arguing when Allen reached into his sock, pulled out a revolver and shot Titsworth twice in the chest. Titsworth ran with a center employee toward the building, but Allen pushed the worker away, shoved Titsworth down some steps and shot her twice in the back at close range, records show.

A police officer responding to a 911 call tussled with Allen before shooting him in the face, according to court documents. Allen was hospitalized for about two months for treatment of injuries to his face, left eye and brain.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://washingtonexaminer.com/news/2…#ixzz1fzv2kDVK

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The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals has set a Feb. 16 execution date for a death row inmate who claims he is insane.

The court set the date Thursday for 55-year-old Garry Thomas Allen. Attorney General Scott Pruitt requested the date on Dec. 28 after a stay of execution for Allen was lifted by a Pittsburg County judge.

Allen was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to death for the Nov. 21, 1986, shooting death of 42-year-old Lawanna Gail Titsworth. But Allen’s 2005 execution was stayed when prison officials reported he had developed mental problems on death row.

A 12-member jury was impaneled in 2008 to determine Allen’s sanity. Jurors rejected Allen’s argument that he should not be put to death and decided he was sane enough to be executed.

http://www.therepublic.com/view/stor…oma-Execution/

Garry Allen has epilepsy, which has apparently worsened during his time on death row. He has frequent seizures and doctors have said that he is so confused for periods after these seizures that he would not understand thereality of or reason for his impending execution. In 1993, Garry Allen’s IQ was measured at 111, above average. By 1999, it had dropped to 75.Doctors have reportedly put this down to his ongoing epileptic seizures combined with head injuries.

After having been presented with such evidence at a clemency hearing on 20 April 2005, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board recommended by four votes to one that Governor Brad Henry commute Garry Allen’s death sentence to life imprisonment. An Assistant Attorney General, pursuing the executionfor the state, was quoted as saying that he believed that Garry Allen was faking his mental impairments: ”It is easier to act stupider than you are. It’s impossible to act smarter than you are. This guy now knows, play up my seizures, play down my IQ.”

http://www.mail-archive.com/deathpen…/msg02623.html

Governor considering death-row inmate’s case

A death-row inmate originally scheduled to be executed Thursday night will instead be put to death March 17 if the governor’s legal team decides against commuting the man’s sentence to life in prison.

Gov. Mary Fallin issued a 30-day stay last week to give her legal team more time to consider a 2005 clemency recommendation from the state Pardon and Parole Board for 55-year-old Garry Thomas Allen.

Allen had been scheduled to die for the 1986 murder of the mother of his two children. His attorneys have argued that he was mentally impaired when he killed 42-year-old Lawanna Gail Titsworth.

Allen’s current lawyer, Randy Bauman, declined to comment on the stay Thursday. Currie Ballard, a member of the pardon and parole board, said he could not comment on death-row cases.

http://www.kswo.com/story/16952220/g…w-inmates-case

Convicted killer Garry Thomas Allen will be executed April 12 after Gov. Mary Fallin issued an additional 26-day stay on Tuesday

Allen was set to be executed Saturday after the first 30-day stay expired for his case.

On Feb. 9, Gov. Fallin granted a 30-day stay of execution from the originally scheduled date of Feb. 16, in order to evaluate the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board’s recommendation of clemency.

The governor met with the Federal Public Defender’s office, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s office and the victim’s family to review Allen’s case, and after examining the arguments and evidence presented, determined that clemency should be denied, and that the sentence of death shall be carried out, according to spokesman Alex Weintz.

Allen was sentenced to death for the 1986 murder of the mother of his two children, 42-year-old Lawanna Gail Titsworth.

Allen’s attorneys have argued that he was mentally impaired when he killed Titsworth in Oklahoma City. They said he had been self-medicating for an underlying mental illness, which had gotten worse. A police officer shot Allen in the face during a struggle after Allen shot his wife.

The pardon and parole board voted 4-1 in 2005 to recommend commuting Allen’s sentence to life in prison. But before then-Gov. Brad Henry had a chance to act on the recommendation, a Pittsburg County judge issued a stay after a prison psychological exam determined Allen had developed mental problems on death row. The doctor’s report noted Allen had dementia caused by seizures, drug abuse and his gunshot wound.

A 12-member jury was impaneled in 2008 to determine Allen’s sanity. Jurors rejected Allen’s argument that he should not be put to death and decided he was sane enough to be executed.

http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/artic…_0_Convic58229

FLORIDA – Mentally ill death row inmate who believes he is the Prince of God WILL be executed after judge rules he is ‘sane’ – FERGUSON STAYED


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.

Ferguson’s defense lawyer Christopher Handman has appealed Glant’s decision to the Florida Supreme Court in Tallahassee.

‘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.’

 

Y’all are killing an innocent man’: Last words of ‘mentally ill’ Texas death row inmate executed for killing 12-year-old girl


October 11, 2012 http://www.dailymail.co.uk

Last Minute Appeal Denied For Texas Death Row Inmate

An inmate on death row used his last breath to protest his innocence of the murder of a 12-year-old girl as he was executed in Texas last night despite his legal team arguing he was mentally ill.

Jonathan Green, 44, was jailed for the abduction, rape and strangling of Christina Neal, 12, whose body was found at his home a month after she was reported missing in 2000.

Several last ditch appeals were made on the basis of his mental health in an attempt to save him from the death penalty but Green was given a lethal injection after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the arguments to spare him.

Too mentally ill: Attorneys argued that Jonathan Green should be spared execution for the murder of 12 year old Christina Leann Neal

The 11th-hour appeals delayed the punishment nearly five hours past the initial 6pm execution time and as the midnight expiration of the death warrant neared.

Asked by the warden if he had a statement from the death chamber gurney, Green shook his head and replied: ‘No’

But seconds later he changed his mind, adding: ‘I’m an innocent man. I never killed anyone. Y’all are killing an innocent man.’

He then looked down at his left arm where one of the needles carrying the lethal drug was inserted, and said: ‘I’ts me hurting bad.’

But almost immediately he began snoring loudly. The sounds stopped after about six breaths.

Green was pronounced dead 18 minutes later at 10.45pm.

 

TEXAS – Green gets stay 2 days before execution EXECUTED 10:45 p.m


October 9, 2012 http://www.news-journal.com/

Two days before his scheduled execution, a Montgomery man on Texas’ Death Row for the 2000 abduction, rape and strangulation murder of a 12-year-old Dobbin girl received a stay because he wasn’t given due process to prove he is mentally incompetent for execution, a federal judge ruled Monday.

Judge Nancy Atlas, in the Southern District of Texas, ruled that Jonathan Marcus Green, 44, who was convicted in 2002 for the murder of Christina LeAnn Neal, did not receive a fair opportunity to demonstrate that he is incompetent, “and thus the State of Texas denied him due process.”

But the Texas Attorney General’s Office plans to file a motion today asking the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to vacate the stay.

Green is schizophrenic and “is not malingering,” said his appellate attorney, James Rytting.

“He is mentally ill … and he’s only gotten worse after being stuck in administrative segregation,” Rytting said.

In her written opinion, Atlas notes that 221st state District Court Judge Lisa Michalk, who denied Green a stay two days before he was to be executed on June 30, 2010, applied incorrect legal standards by seeking to determine if there was a change in Green’s mental capacity since his imprisonment in 2002.

“The correct question was whether Green was presently competent, regardless of his comparative mental capacity between 2002 and 2010,” Atlas wrote.

Green understood that he was convicted of killing Christina and was to be executed for that crime, the basis for Michalk’s finding that he understood why he was being executed, Atlas wrote.

But Green believed he was to be executed as a result of “spiritual warfare” between demons and God, Atlas found, and Michalk prevented Green from presenting relevant evidence, denied Green due process.

ARIZONA – Supreme Court to take up Arizona death-row case; competence at issue, ERNEST GONZALES


OCTOBER 8, 2012 http://www.azfamily.com/

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court is slated to hear Arizona’s argument against a court-ordered delay in the execution of a convicted murderer.

Ernest Gonzales killed Darrel Wagner in 1990. He was sentenced to death in April 1992. While on death row, however, Gonzales,went insane  becoming unable to communicate with the lawyers handling his appeals in federal court. It’s the insanity that prompted an appeals court to issue  an indefinite stay of execution.

On Tuesday, Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne will go before the Supreme Court and try to convince them to lift that stay.

While Horne says the existing court record should be considered in the appeal, Gonzales’ defense attorneys say his entitlement to effective legal counsel requires the 48-year-old to be mentally competent, which he is not.

Gonzales was 25 and had already served time when he stabbed Wagner to death in the course of burglarizing his home. He also stabbed Wagner’s wife, badly wounding her.

According to court documents, Gonzales showed signs of mental impairment, as well as violent tendencies, while in prison the first time. In 1990, after nearly 10 years on death row, the symptoms of mental illness reportedly became more serious.

While psychiatrists have determined that Gonzales is  psychotic, he has never been declared incompetent in court.

For years, lawyers have fought over the issue of Gonzales‘ competence and its relevance. While the state has insisted Gonzales‘ appeal is “record-based,” the defense has countered that Gonzales’ input is necessary considering the number of attorney involved in the case over the past 22 years.

Even as Horne makes Arizona’s argument, the justices will also hear a similar case out of Ohio.

It’s not clear when the Supreme Court might issue its ruling.

Arizona’s most recent execution was in early August. Daniel Wayne Cook was put to death for strangling two people two death in 1987. It was the state’s fifth execution of 2012, just two shy of the record seven executions in 1999.

If Arizona puts seven inmates to death this year, it could become the second-busiest death-penalty state after Texas.

OKLAHOMA – Attorney General seeks execution date for death row inmate – Gary Allen


September 27, 2012 http://www.sfgate.com

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt asked a state appeals court Thursday to set an execution date for a man convicted of fatally shooting his fiancée almost 26 years ago.

Pruitt filed the request with the Court of Criminal Appeals a day after a federal judge rejected Gary Thomas Allen‘s request for a hearing on his claim that he is mentally incompetent and ineligible for the death penalty.

U.S. District Judge David Russell ruled Wednesday that Allen, 56, had not shown that a jury impanelled in 2008 acted unreasonably when it found him sane enough to be executed. Russell also lifted a stay that postponed Allen’s most recent execution date.

Pruitt said Russell’s ruling concludes Allen’s court appeals. “After a thorough review of this case, my office has concluded that the execution should be carried out,” the attorney general said.

Allen’s attorney, Randy Bauman, did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.

Allen was convicted and sentenced to death for the November 1986 murder of Lawanna Gail Titsworth in the parking lot of an Oklahoma City day care. Titsworth, 24, had moved out of the home she shared with Allen and their two sons four days before her death.

Court documents indicate the two were arguing when Allen shot Titsworth twice in the chest. Titsworth ran with a center employee toward the building, but Allen pushed the worker away, shoved Titsworth down some steps and shot her twice in the back at close range, records show.

A police officer responding to a 911 call tussled with Allen before shooting him in the face, according to court documents. Allen was hospitalized for about two months for treatment of injuries to his face, left eye and brain.

Allen entered a blind plea of guilty to first-degree murder and was sentenced by a judge to die. But Allen’s attorneys have argued he was not competent enough to enter the plea.

A district judge in Pittsburg County stayed Allen’s original May 19, 2005, execution date after a psychological examination at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary indicated Allen had developed mental problems. The U.S. Constitution forbids the execution of inmates who are insane or mentally incompetent.

Three years later, a 12-member jury rejected Allen’s argument that he should not be put to death. Last December, the Oklahoma Appeals court ruled that an appeal of that decision was not authorized by law. The court said there is no procedure in state law to appeal a finding that a person facing execution is sane.

The state Pardon and Parole Board had voted in April 2005 to recommend that Allen’s death sentence be commuted to life without parole. That clemency recommendation wasn’t acted on until this year, when Gov. Mary Fallin denied it.

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