|Roman Colosseum lit to protest an execution|
On Monday, a federal judge issued a temporary stay of execution until February 20th, based on a challenge to the prison's policy which precluded Turner from undergoing psychiatric tests that could establish his mental illness.
Turner was severely disfigured from a self-inflicted gunshot wound during an attempted suicide attempt at age 18 He also spent three months at a state hospital after slitting his wrists in another suicide attempt in 1995, where, according to Turner's lawyer, he was misdiagnosed with depression and given Prozac, which exacerbated his mental problems. The crimes occurred later that year.
(Turner's claim that his trial lawyers unreasonably failed to explore and present his "long and extensive" history of mental illness was previously rejected by the courts.)
This morning, by a 2-1 vote, the federal court of appeals lifted the stay, and the Supreme Court refused to intervene to stop the execution.
Turner's argument, rejected by the Supreme Court, was "whether a prisoner with a severe mental disorder or disability which significantly impairs that person’s ability to rationally process information, to make reasonable judgments and to control their impulses, whether people in that category can be executed." His counsel asked the Court "to establish that it would be contrary to consensus of moral values, that it would be cruel and unusual punishment, to execute someone with severe mental illness.”
This is the third execution in the United States this year, the first in Mississippi.