Magazine article Developments in Mental Health Law

Additional Delay Ordered of Execution to Determine Whether Inmate Competent to Be Executed

Magazine article Developments in Mental Health Law

Additional Delay Ordered of Execution to Determine Whether Inmate Competent to Be Executed

Article excerpt

For the second time, Virginia Governor Timothy M. Kaine delayed the scheduled execution of Percy Levar Walton. Walton, now age twenty-eight, received a death sentence after he pled guilty in 1997 to the 1996 murder of three people in Danville, Virginia. On June 8, 2006, a little more than an hour before his scheduled execution, Gov. Kaine delayed execution for at least six months until December 8, 2006, to enable an independent evaluation to be conducted on Walton's mental condition and competence.

On December 4, 2006, Gov. Kaine delayed Walton's execution another eighteen months, until June 10, 2008, to permit further observation of Walton's mental condition and competence. Gov. Kaine's statement noted that it is unconstitutional to execute a person who is mentally incompetent because the United States Supreme Court in Ford v. Wainwright (1986) held that a person must have sufficient mental capacity to be aware of the punishment he or she is about to suffer, and why he or she is to suffer it. Gov. Kaine noted that courts have struggled with the question of whether Walton is competent to be executed, citing in particular the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals narrow 7-6 majority ruling that Walton is competent to be executed. …

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