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Schizophrenic Death Row Inmate Asks Court for Funds to Prove Mental Illness 

click image Schizophrenic death row inmate Scott Panetti was granted a stay of execution in December. - DEMOCRACY NOW
  • Democracy Now
  • Schizophrenic death row inmate Scott Panetti was granted a stay of execution in December.

Lawyers for a schizophrenic death row inmate are asking a federal appeals court to approve funding for defense attorneys and mental health experts so the man can make a claim that he is insane and should not be executed.

Scott Panetti — a diagnosed schizophrenic, who is insane and suffers delusions — is being executed for murdering Joe Gaitan Alvarado, Jr., 55, and Amanda Carrion Alvarado, 56, in 1992 at their Fredericksburg home. The Alvarado's were his estranged wife's parents.

Panetti, who was granted a stay of execution on December 3, believes the State of Texas wants to execute him for preaching the Gospel. 

In November, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals denied a claim that Panetti was too mentally ill and unfit for education because he doesn't understand why he's being executed.

His lawyers are also asking the federal appeals court to allow the stay past its current 90-day limit.

According to background provided by attorneys representing Panetti, the man has suffered from extreme mental illness for more than 30 years, was hospitalized a dozen times for psychosis and delusions in the six years leading up to the crime, and first showed signs of psychotic disorder  in 1978 — 14 years before the crime.

"In 1986, Mr. Panetti first succumbed to the delusion that he was engaged in spiritual warfare with Satan. In an affidavit his first wife signed to have him involuntarily committed, she testified that he was obsessed with the idea that the devil was in the house. He engaged in a series of bizarre behaviors to exorcize his home, including burying his furniture in the backyard because he thought the devil was in the furniture," case background info from Panetti's legal team states.

Panetti represented himself during his 1995 capital murder trial, wearing a cowboy costume with a purple bandana. He tried to call more than 200 people to the witness stand, including the Pope, John F. Kennedy and Jesus Christ, according to background provided by Panetti's legal team.

During the trial, Pannetti also announced that we would assume the personality of "Sarge" from the witness stand, where he recounted, in third person, the details of the crime, according to Panetti's legal team.

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