US Supreme Court greenlights execution despite suspicion of mental illness

U.S. Supreme Court Greenlights Execution ;execution despite suspicion of mental illness

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The United States Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to grant a stay of execution to a death row inmate who is to be executed in the state of Oklahoma although he is suffering, according to his lawyers, from heavy psychiatric problems.

Benjamin Cole, 57, is to receive a lethal injection Thursday at 10 a.m. local time at McAlester Penitentiary in the central United States. 

< p>He had been sentenced to death in 2004 for the murder of his nine-month-old daughter. Prosecutors say he killed her to silence her before resuming a game of video games.

He has long suffered from “paranoid schizophrenia” and “lives in a near catatonic state”, after a statement from his lawyers. “He can't take care of his hygiene, crawls when he doesn't have a wheelchair and barely communicates with the guards, and his lawyers,” they add.

However, the Supreme Court of the United States has prohibited the execution of convicts who do not understand what they are being punished for.

As the date set for his execution approaches, the defenders of Mr. Cole have multiplied the urgent appeals, in particular before the high court, to try to save him.

The Oklahoma authorities replied that he was competent to be executed. The convict, a “Messianic Jew”, has “the intelligence to speak”, but is silent with his lawyers because they do not understand “his extreme religiosity”, they wrote to the Supreme Court.

In contrast, “he agreed to speak with a neutral expert at a state hospital and very clearly expressed his understanding of the sentence,” they added.

The defense of Mr. Cole found this explanation “implausible”. “That he was able to have a long conversation … contradicts reports from guards, medical personnel and others who have not been able to have any real interactions with Mr. Cole in recent years,” the statement said. one of his lawyers, Emma Rolls.