After a slew of conflicting court rulings, a federal appeals court blocked the scheduled execution of a mass killer convicted of eight killings that jolted South Florida in the 1970s. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the stay, the Associated Press reports. John Errol Ferguson, 64, says he suffers from mental illness so severe he cannot be executed. Ferguson, a paranoid schizophrenic with delusions he’s the “prince of God,” had faced a lethal injection at 6 p.m. last evening.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi argued that the late ruling “makes a mockery of the state’s compelling interest in finality” in Ferguson’s case. He has been on death row for 34 years. Ferguson was convicted of shooting eight bound and blindfolded people execution-style in South Florida in 1977, then killing a teenage couple months later in 1978 after they left a church event planning to get some ice cream. He has previously been ruled mentally competent to be executed. The Florida Supreme Court said “Ferguson understands what is taking place and why.”