Mentally ill death row inmate John Ferguson gets temporary stay of execution

10/24/12 Janelle Irwin
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Florida death row inmate John Ferguson has been granted a stay of execution by an appeals court in Atlanta before he was scheduled to be executed yesterday. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to lift the stay. The death row inmate has been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. His attorney Christopher Handman says Ferguson thinks he will be resurrected if he is executed and that he is the “Prince of God.”

“Most troubling, many of the later diagnoses were recognizing that he was dangerous and shouldn’t be let out under any circumstances and, inexplicably, he was let out of these mental institutions and crimes tragically occurred.”

Ferguson was convicted of killing eight people during a home invasion in 1977 and has been on death row since 1978. Previous court rulings found that Ferguson was fit for execution because his beliefs were consistent with Christian views. But Handman says his client is severely mentally-ill and shouldn’t be put to death.

“He has had this consistent diagnosis for 40 years and most recently even the lower Florida Circuit Court recognized that he has schizophrenia, he is mentally ill, he’s not faking which has been the state’s theory through out.”

Ferguson’s defense team and the State will submit arguments over the next two weeks. Florida’s Attorney General Pam Bondi said in court documents that the ruling "makes a mockery of the state's compelling interest in finality."

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