The case has received national media attention because it would be one of the few executions under a legal doctrine that made Wood responsible for crimes committed by his accomplices that “should have been anticipated” — even if he did not actually commit the crime.
But federal judge Orlando Garcia stayed the execution for another reason, finding that Texas violated Wood’s constitutional rights by refusing to provide Wood with a lawyer to help him argue that he is too mentally incompetent to be executed.
“With all due respect, a system that requires an insane person to first make ‘a substantial showing’ of his own lack of mental capacity without the assistance of counsel or a mental health expert, in order to obtain such assistance is, by definition, an insane system,” Garcia wrote.
Wood’s attorneys said that Texas did not plan to appeal Garcia’s ruling.
Garcia said there was some evidence that Wood did not understand the connection between his role in Keeran’s death and the reason he was sentenced to death. He found that Wood should be given the chance to argue that he is mentally incompetent.
Wood was initially found too mentally incompetent to stand trial. After a few months in a state hospital, Wood was found competent to go to trial, though he had not had any medical treatment during that time. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 1998.
An earlier mental health evaluation said Wood had delusional thought patterns and could not appreciate the consequences of his actions. His wife and father, in previous interviews with ABCNews.com, said Wood was eager to please and has trouble understanding information.
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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