Will Texas Execute A Mentally Incompetent Inmate Next Week?


On December 3, Texas plans to execute Scott Panetti, who was convicted in 1995 for murdering his in-laws with a hunting rifle. The New York Times says in an editorial that Panetti is guilty but severely mentally ill, and has been for decades. During his trial, at which he was allowed to represent himself, Panetti, 56, dressed in a cowboy suit and attempted to subpoena John F. Kennedy and Jesus Christ.

The Supreme Court has said that Panetti must have a “rational understanding” of why the state plans to kill him. The Times say that “by any reasonable standard … Panetti is mentally incompetent.” Texas argues that he is exaggerating the extent of his illness, and that he understands enough to be put to death. The Time opines that Texas “cannot pretend to be adhering to any morally acceptable standard of culpability if it kills someone like Scott Panetti”

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