Lawyers for a Texas killer went to court Monday to try to get his execution day changed, complaining he hasn't had a competency hearing in seven years even though he's so delusional he thinks Satan is orchestrating his death. Scott Panetti's attorneys also contend the state set a Dec. 3 date for his lethal injection in secret and didn't tell them for two weeks. The Texas attorney general's office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the filing.
Scott Panetti, 56, fatally shot his in-laws in front of his estranged wife and their kids in 1992. He represented himself at trial, where he wore a cowboy outfit and tried to subpoena President Kennedy, Jesus Christ and Anne Bancroft. His lawyers say he doesn't even understand why he's being executed and thinks the devil is punishing him for preaching, but the state contends he has enough of a grasp on the situation to be put to death.
“Mr. Panetti’s severe mental illness has infected every stage of his capital case. His execution now would cross a moral line and serve no penological purpose. It is reasonable and necessary for a competency hearing to take place before the State wrongly executes someone who is clearly incompetent for execution,” Kathryn Kase, one of his lawyers, said in a statement.
— Tracy Connor