Death Penalty

Inmate with prince of God delusion is executed after asserting he will rise again

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An inmate who claimed he was the prince of God was executed Monday evening after the U.S. Supreme Court denied cert in his case.

Lawyers for John Ferguson, 65, had claimed he lacked rational understanding necessary for execution. The Associated Press and the Miami Herald report on the inmate’s last words: “I just want everyone to know that I am the Prince of God and I will rise again.”

Ferguson was convicted of killing six people during a 1977 home invasion and robbery at a home used by marijuana dealers. He was convicted separately for killing two high school students parked at a lovers’ lane in 1978.

Ferguson had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was in a state mental hospital for several years in the 1970s, according to the AP story. One doctor said Ferguson should not be released because he was a danger to himself and society, Ferguson’s lawyer has said. Yet Ferguson was released, killing six people months afterward.

The ABA had filed an amicus brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to clarify the standard for competency for execution in Ferguson’s case. Ferguson’s lawyer, Christopher Handman of Hogan Lovells, issued a statement saying he was “gravely disappointed” by the cert denial and the execution violates the Eighth Amendment.

“Mr. Ferguson is insane and incompetent for execution by any measure,” Handman said.

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