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Appeals Court Halts Texas Execution

Texas death row inmate Scott Panetti has had a long history of mental illness but was allowed to defend himself at trial. He is scheduled to be executed on Dec. 3, 2014. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice)
Texas death row inmate Scott Panetti has had a long history of mental illness but was allowed to defend himself at trial. He is scheduled to be executed on Dec. 3, 2014. (Texas Department of Criminal Justice)

A federal appeals court has halted the scheduled execution of a Texas prisoner whose attorneys say is too delusional to be put to death.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted a reprieve late Wednesday morning, less than eight hours before condemned killer Scott Panetti was set to receive a lethal injection.

Panetti was sentenced to death for fatally shooting his estranged wife’s parents 22 years ago.

Panetti’s lawyers are he’s too mentally ill to qualify for capital punishment, and they sought a delay for new competency tests.

His attorneys also had appeals before the U.S. Supreme Court, which has said mentally ill people cannot be executed if they don’t have a factual and rational understanding of why they’re being punished.

Here & Now’s Lisa Mullins speaks with Panetti’s co-council, Kathryn Kase, executive director of Texas Defender Service about his fate.

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