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Execution Date Set for 'Delusional' Murderer Scott Panetti in Texas

Scott Panetti's lawyers say he's so mentally ill he thinks the devil is making the state put him to death.
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Texas has set a new execution date for a bible-thumping convicted murderer who, according to his lawyers, is so mentally ill he thinks the devil is orchestrating his death.

Scott Panetti, 56, fatally shot his in-laws in front of his estranged wife and their kids in 1992. Despite a history of schizophrenia, he was deemed competent to stand trial and represented himself, wearing a costume and trying to subpoena a dead president and a movie star.

The U.S. Supreme Court granted Panetti a reprieve in 2007, ordering low courts to take a closer look at whether Panetti has a "rational understanding" of why he is being put to death.

Prosecution experts suggested Panetti was malingering, while defense psychologists said he was delusional. The judge found that while delusions may have fueled Panetti's crimes, he realizes he committed the murders and meets the standard for execution.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review Panetti's appeal and a county judge signed an order for a Dec. 3 execution. His lawyer, Greg Wiercioch, called that "unfortunate" in a statement.

“For more than three decades, Mr. Panetti has suffered from severe mental illness," he said.

"He was allowed to represent himself at his capital trial, wearing a make-believe cowboy outfit and attempting to subpoena Jesus Christ and John F. Kennedy. He has a fixed delusion that Satan, working through the State of Texas, is seeking to execute him for preaching the Gospel. His execution would be a miserable spectacle."


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