Court halts execution of mentally ill Texas man

A diverse coalition has condemned Scott Panetti's planned execution

Published December 3, 2014 6:02PM (EST)

Scott Panetti       (AP/Texas Department of Criminal Justice)
Scott Panetti (AP/Texas Department of Criminal Justice)

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday stayed the execution of Scott Panetti, a mentally ill Texas man whose planned execution has drawn condemnation from figures across the political spectrum.

Panetti was scheduled to be executed at 6 p.m. today, but the court has ordered that his execution be postponed, the court clerk's office said, according to CNN.

In 1995, Panetti was convicted in the 1992 murders of his wife's parents. Representing himself at his trial, Panetti called more than 200 witnesses, including John F. Kennedy, the pope and Jesus.

Panetti's lawyers say he has suffered from schizophrenia for three decades, and his planned execution has galvanized everyone from progressive groups opposed to the death penalty to former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a staunch conservative. The group Conservatives Concerned About the Death Penalty said on Tuesday that Panetti's capital case has made a "mockery" of the justice system.

As Panetti's execution approached, his lawyers sought to have the Supreme Court intervene to block the state of Texas from putting him to death. Panetti's lawyers also asked Gov. Rick Perry, a fervent advocate of capital punishment, to grant a 30-day stay of execution.

By Luke Brinker

MORE FROM Luke Brinker