National News

Attorneys ask judge to halt Arkansas inmate's execution

Posted September 28

— Attorneys for an Arkansas inmate scheduled to be put to death in November asked a state judge to spare his life, saying the execution would violate the Constitution because the condemned killer suffers from a psychotic disorder.

Jack Gordon Greene's attorneys asked a Jefferson County judge to hold a hearing on whether Greene is incompetent to be executed. His attorneys have said Greene suffers from a psychotic disorder that causes him to contort his body and stuff his ears and nose with paper in an attempt to alleviate perceived but delusional injuries.

"Because Greene's psychotic disorder prevents him from comprehending the real interests the state of Arkansas seeks to vindicate, his execution would violate the prohibition on cruel and unusual punishment" in the U.S. and Arkansas constitutions, the attorneys said in a filing late Wednesday afternoon.

Greene, 62, was convicted of killing Sidney Jethro Burnett in 1991 after Burnett and his wife accused Greene of arson. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson last month scheduled Greene's execution for Nov. 9 after the state found a new supply of midazolam, one of three drugs it uses in the lethal injection process. The state scheduled eight executions in April before its previous supply of the drug expired at the end of that month, but carried out only four after the others were blocked by the courts. Greene wasn't among the four inmates temporarily spared from execution in April.

Greene's attorneys argued that an Arkansas law giving the state's Correction Department director the discretion to determine whether a prisoner is competent to be executed violates U.S. Supreme Court rulings guaranteeing a prisoner a fair hearing. They also argued the law violates the state constitution by giving that power to an executive branch official, rather than the courts.

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge's office said Thursday that she was reviewing the lawsuit.

"The family of the victims deserve closure and the attorney general will continue to work on their behalf to see that justice is done," spokesman Judd Deere said in an email.

Greene has also sought clemency from the state Parole Board and is scheduled to have a hearing before the panel next week.

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Follow Andrew DeMillo on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ademillo

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