execution Ford v. Wainwright incompetency Marcus Druery Panetti severe mental illness Stay of execution Texas. Court of Criminal Appeals

“Will Texas Execute a Psychotic Man?” More on the Marcus Druery Stay of Execution

“Will Texas execute a psychotic man?” That’s the question posed by Andrew Cohen in his latest piece in The Atlantic (July 30, 2012).  Cohen is referring, of course, to Marcus Druery, who was scheduled to be executed on Wednesday, August 1, for the 2002 murder of Skyyler Browne in Brazos County.  The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals granted Druery a stay of execution late last week, pending review of the appeal of the denial of a competency hearing by Brazos County District Court Judge J.D. Langley.

The state’s own mental health professionals have repeatedly diagnosed Druery as schizophrenic and delusional – a diagnosis that prosecutors have not challenged .  Yet his competency to be executed  – whether he possesses a rational understanding of the connection between the crime for which he has been convicted and his punishment – has never been considered on its merits by any court.  Here’s an excerpt from Cohen’s article:

If the substance of the Druery appeal has to do with a single man’s mental health, the process that led us here is illustrative of the deeply flawed nature of Texas’ capital punishment system. We see in this case a judge more angry about delays than he is committed to accuracy. We see prosecutors with risible disdain toward defense counsel. And we see it all in a case in which the condemned man has been judged to be seriously mentally ill over and over again by the state’s own doctors.

Read the full article in The Atlantic, which also includes excerpts from and links to briefs filed by Druery’s defense attorneys.

Read additional coverage of the stay of execution in the following media outlets (thanks to StandDown Texas for providing these links):

Associated Press (via KTRK-TV): “Texas death row inmate has Aug. 1 execution stayed,” July 27, 2012

Houston Chronicle: “Appeals court halts execution over competency issue,” July 27, 2012

Bryan-College Station Eagle: Appeals court delays Marcus Druery execution,” July 28, 2012