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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Wood's Attorneys to Submit Mental Illness Evaluation Early Next Year

The Houston Chronicle is reporting that Jeff Wood's attorneys will submit a report from mental health experts who will evaluate Wood to the judge early next year. Of course, that means there will be no execution at least until the judge evaluates the report, so Jeff Wood will not have an execution date rescheduled at least until next year. If he is found to be incompetent, he likely would never have an execution date re-scheduled.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia of San Antonio put the execution on hold to allow psychiatric examination to verify defense claims that Wood is incompetent to be executed.

Wood's pending execution spurred protests from death penalty opponents who noted that he merely was a getaway driver in the January 1996 robbery-killing.

His partner, Daniel Reneau, who was identified as the triggerman, was executed in 2002.

Wood was convicted under Texas' law of parties, a statute that says all parties to a crime are equally culpable.

Garcia allocated up to $7,000 for the psychiatric testing.

Wood's attorney, Scott Sullivan of San Antonio, said he will report to the court early next year. If Wood is found incompetent, his execution likely would be delayed indefinitely.

"We are relieved that we are going through the process whereby the court will determine if he is competent to be executed," Sullivan said. "It is a process that is dearly needed in this case."

Wood initially was found incompetent for trial after being indicted on a capital murder charge. After a period in which he received no medical or psychiatric treatment, he was deemed competent, tried, convicted and sentenced to death.

Should Wood at some point be found competent, he could again face execution, Sullivan said.

"The diagnosis that keeps coming back is narcissistic personality disorder and attention deficit disorder," Sullivan said. "That's where you become so big on yourself that you put yourself above it all. When you do that, you lose touch with reality. It's a huge trigger mechanism for Wood."

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