A federal judge delayed yesterday’s scheduled execution of a Texas inmate so he can be tested to determine whether he’s mentally competent to understand why he would be put to death, reports the Associated Press. Jeffery Wood was be executed for taking part in a 1996 robbery in which a clerk was fatally shot. The case highlights the issue of executing accomplices who may not commit actual murders.
U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio granted a request by Wood’s attorneys to delay his execution so they could hire a mental health expert to pursue their arguments that he is incompetent to be executed. Garcia said the state courts had refused to provide Wood fundamental due process protections mandated by a U.S. Supreme Court decision last year. “We applaud the (court) for upholding Jeff Wood’s rudimentary due process right to have his competency evaluated,” said Andrea Keilen of Texas Defender Service, a legal group helping to represent Wood.