Scott Panetti dies on Wednesday.
The convicted killer, pictured behind the glass in the photo above, murdered his in-laws, Joe and Amanda Alvarado, in 1992. This is a fact that he and his attorneys don’t dispute.
However, according to NBC News, there are serious questions as to whether the state of Texas should follow through with the lethal injection.
For starters, Panetti has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. He was sentenced to die in 1995 after a disastrous defense in which he represented himself, dressed as a cowboy, believing that only the insane could pull off an insanity defense, the news site notes.
Since that time, his attorneys describe increasingly delusional behaviors and believe that the execution should be called off and reverted to life in prison, or at the very least it should be postponed until more mental evaluation can occur.
“He cannot appreciate why Texas seeks to execute him,” said attorney Kathryn Kase, who represents Scott Panetti. “You have to have a rational as well as factual understanding of why you’re being executed.”
Still, the state isn’t buying it, stating that the defense had almost two decades to get the kind of testing they’re wanting to get for Panetti.
The crime, described in vivid detail by the Christian Science Monitor, noted that Panetti, “heavily armed, head shaved and wearing camouflage — shot and killed his in-laws at their Texas Hill Country home, showering his estranged wife and 3-year-old daughter in blood.”
But the horrific nature of the crime, the report states, doesn’t tell the whole story. Panetti, prior to taking that deadly action, had been placed in a hospital close to a dozen times in the years leading up to the double murder. Michael Graczyk of the Associated Press notes a Supreme Court review of the Scott Panetti case in 2007 “tweaked the criteria for executing those with severe mental disorders by requiring inmates to not only know that they are being punished, but to also have a ‘rational understanding’ of their punishment.”
“Providing little guidance other than requiring a ‘fair hearing’ for presentation of psychiatric evidence to consider insanity claims,” Graczyk notes, “the justices returned Panetti’s case to lower federal courts, which ultimately found him competent.”
Texas is certainly not timid when it comes to carrying out the death penalty, but what do you think, readers? Should they stay the execution of Scott Panetti pending further review, or has the inmate had all the chances he deserves? Share your thoughts in our comments section.