Death Penalty

Lawyers for death-row inmate say they learned of execution date in news article

Lawyers for a death-row inmate who represented himself at trial dressed in a purple cowboy suit say they learned of his execution date in a newspaper article.

An emergency motion for a hearing filed on behalf of Texas inmate Scott Panetti says his lawyers learned of the Dec. 3 execution date from an Oct. 30 newspaper article that was published two weeks after the date was set. The motion says Panetti has a compelling constitutional claim that he is not competent to be executed.

Defense lawyer Kathryn Kase tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that prosecutors never contacted her about the date. “We have telephones and working emails,” she said. “They know how to get ahold of us.”

Panetti has paranoid delusions that lead him to believe his execution is being orchestrated by Satan to end his preaching of the gospel to the condemned, the motion says. He was sentenced to death for killing his ex-wife’s parents after a trial in which Panetti wore a purple cowboy suit and tried to subpoena Jesus Christ and the Pope.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on behalf of Panetti in a 2007 decision that found a federal appeals court used an “improperly restrictive test” when it considered his competency for execution. On remand, the courts upheld his execution. The U.S. Supreme Court denied cert in Panetti’s case Oct. 6.

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