Texas Gov. Rejects Death Row Reprieve

HUNTSVILLE, Texas (AP) – Gov. Rick Perry rejected a highly unusual parole board recommendation to commute a mentally ill killer’s death sentence or delay Tuesday evening’s scheduled lethal injection. 

The Supreme Court also denied a stay for Kelsey Patterson, 50, whose lawyers challenged lower court rulings rejecting claims that Patterson was mentally incompetent and should not be executed. 

Patterson, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, was condemned for a double slaying almost 12 years ago. At least three mentally ill prisoners have been executed in Texas since the Supreme Court ruled two years ago that severely mentally retarded inmates should not be executed. 

The scheduled lethal injection renewed the legal quandary of whether it is proper to execute someone who is mentally ill when the U.S. Supreme Court says it is unconstitutional to execute someone who is mentally retarded. 

In a 5-1 vote, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles endorsed a petition from Patterson’s lawyers and supporters that he be spared. Texas resumed carrying out executions in 1982, and Monday’s board action marked the first time at this late stage in a condemned inmate’s case the panel recommended the governor commute a death sentence. 

“State and federal courts have reviewed this case no fewer than 10 times, examining his claims of mental illness and competency, as well as various other legal issues,” Perry said in a statement less than an hour before Patterson’s scheduled execution time. “In each instance the courts have determined there is no legal bar to his execution.” 

Wednesday May 19, 2004 12:01 AM
Associated Press Writer 

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