A Texas man convicted in the slaying of a 12-year-old girl is scheduled to be executed Wednesday evening after a federal appeals court overturned a reprieve granted earlier this week. Jonathan Green was sentenced to death in 2010 for the abduction, rape and strangling of Christina Neal, whose body was found at his home in June 2000. Neal's family lived across a highway from Green in Dobbin, about 45 miles northwest of Houston. Green's attorneys argued that he was mentally incompetent for the death penalty, saying he suffered from hallucinations, and on Monday a federal district judge in Houston granted a reprieve. But the Texas attorney general's office convinced the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn that ruling and lift the stay of execution late Tuesday, less than 24 hours before Green could be taken to the death chamber. Green's lethal injection would be the 10th this year in Texas and the first of four scheduled for this month in the nation's most active death penalty state. The appeals court said it found the procedures at Green's competency hearing were not improper, that no Supreme Court precedents were violated and that it was reasonable to find Green competent for the death penalty. "We conclude that the state court applied the correct standard and the (federal) district court abused its discretion in finding otherwise," the three-judge panel ruled. Green's lawyer, James Rytting, said his client hallucinated about the "ongoing spiritual warfare between two sets of voices representing good and evil." But Green told a psychiatrist who examined him before the hearing that he didn't and couldn't have killed Neal, that false evidence was used against him, and that he understood a murder conviction could result in him receiving an injection that would kill him. Supreme Court guidance says mental illness can't disqualify someone from execution if they understand the sentence and reasons for the punishment, the state lawyers argued. Green has declined to speak with reporters as his execution date neared.
Texas Moratorium Network (TMN) is a non-profit organization with the primary goal of mobilizing statewide support for a moratorium on executions in Texas. Significant death penalty reform in Texas, including a moratorium on executions, is a viable goal if the public is educated on the death penalty system and is encouraged to contact their elected representatives to urge passage of moratorium legislation.
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