Death Row Inmate Loses at Top Texas Appeals Court

The state's top criminal court has refused to halt next week's scheduled execution of a convicted killer who defense attorneys contend is severely delusional.

A divided Texas Court of Criminal Appeals voted 5-4 Tuesday to reject an appeal from lawyers for 56-year-old Scott Panetti. He's scheduled for lethal injection Dec. 3 for fatally shooting his in-laws 22 years ago at their Fredericksburg home.

Gillespie County prosecutors argued the appeal was improper and the court had no jurisdiction.

Attorneys want additional time and want experts to examine Panetti's mental competence for execution.

Judge Elsa Alcala, in a dissenting opinion joined by three other judges, said the court needed to more liberally consider the appeal because it involved constitutional issues about executing the mentally ill.

Panetti's lawyers say they'll contest the ruling.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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