District Court Deems Scott Panetti Mentally Competent for Execution in Texas
U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks in Texas has ruled Scott Panetti mentally competent enough to be executed. Panetti’s earlier path to execution was blocked by the U.S. Supreme Court, which heard his appeal in 2007 (Panetti v. Quarterman). The Court held that the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit had used too narrow a standard in deciding whether Panetti had an understanding of why he was to be executed. The Court also held that Texas had not given Panetti an adequate hearing to determine his competency. The U.S. Supreme Court has previously held that it is unconstitutional to execute someone who is insane (Ford v. Wainwright (1986)).
At his original trial, Scott Panetti acted as his own attorney while wearing a purple cowboy suit. He subpoenaed the late President John F. Kennedy and Jesus. He has been treated for schizophrenia and paranoid delusions and been hospitalized for mental illness on numerous occasions. He believes he is being executed because satanic forces want him silenced from preaching the Gospel, not for the shooting of two people. The Supreme Court sent Panetti’s case back to federal District Court to apply the broader standard in determining if he was mentally competent for execution. Following Judge Sparks' ruling, the case will now likely go to the 5th Circuit and could ultimately return to the U.S. Supreme Court.
("U.S. District Court Judge Rules Panetti Competent," Fredricksburg Standard, May 25, 2008). View a video about Scott Panetti's mental problems. See Mental Illness and Supreme Court.