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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mental Illness an Issue in Today's Execution

The AP is reporting on the case of Virgil Martinez, scheduled for execution in Texas today:

David Dow, a University of Houston law professor, said Monday he hoped to get the lethal injection delayed so lawyers can be certain Martinez is competent to be executed.

"He seems to us to have some potentially significant mental illness issues," said Dow, who works with the Texas Defender Service, a legal group that represents death row inmates.

Don Vernay, a New Mexico lawyer who had been representing Martinez in federal court appeals, argued unsuccessfully that temporal lobe epilepsy suffered by Martinez caused the shooting frenzy.

...

At trial, Martinez was defended by Jeri Yenne, who later was elected district attorney in Brazoria County.

"I don't think it's appropriate for me to comment," she said when asked about the status of the case. "It's been real important for me to maintain my boundaries as district attorney.

"I did everything we could from an advocacy perspective," she said of her defense. "We also want to make sure the system properly reviews it. I don't think I should talk about the particulars."

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