Update: Thursday, December 4, 2014

 

Scott Louis Panetti was scheduled to be executed at 6 pm CST, on Wednesday, December 3, 2014, at the Walls Unit of the Huntsville State Penitentiary in Huntsville, Texas.  Less than 12 hours before his scheduled execution, he was granted a stay of execution.  Fifty-six-year-old Scott is convicted of murdering 55-year-old Joe Gaitan Alvardo, Jr., and his wife, 56-year-old Amanda Carrion Alvarado, the parents of his estranged wife, in their home on September 8, 1992, in Fredericksburg, Texas.  Scott has spent the last 19 years on Texas’ death row.

 

Scott was granted a stay of execution by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in order to allow time for the court to consider an appeal that was "late arriving” and the “complex legal question at issue in this matter.”  Oral arguments will be scheduled soon.  Scott's attorneys have argued that Scott is mentally incompetent, and thereby ineligible for the death penalty, according to a 2002 Supreme Court ruling.  They also claim that Scott is schizophrenic, and had been for years prior to them murders.  The Attorney General's Office has announced that it will not fight the stay.

 

Scott was an all-star football player at his high school, before dropping out after the 10th grade.  He joined the United States Navy, but was discharged for mental illness.  Scott was hospitalized several times throughout his life for schizophrenia.  Prior to his arrest, Scott worked as a blacksmith.  As an adult, Scott abused alcohol and had abusive behavior, causing his second wife, Sonja Alvarado, to leave him in August of 1992. Sonja also took the couple’s three-year-old daughter.

 

On the morning September 8, 1992, Scott Panetti shaved his head, dressed in military fatigues, and drove to the home of his in-laws, where his wife and their daughter were staying.  Panetti broke in and shot Joe and Amanda, his wife’s parents.  Panetti then kidnapped Sonja and their daughter.  Panetti released them later that day and turned himself into police, claiming his alter-ego “Sarge” controlled him at the time of the crime.

 

Panetti chose to represent himself at trial and included Jesus Christ, the Pope, and John F. Kennedy among his list of witnesses to be subpoenaed.  Witnesses described the trial as a “farce” and a “circus.”  Panetti would often ramble unintelligible during his statements.

 

Scott Penetti was scheduled to be executed in 2004, however he was a granted a stay of execution to allow time for a mental competency examination.  Since then, a doctor has examined Scott reported his findings to US District Judge Sam Sparks.  Judge Sparks concluded that although Scott more than likely “suffers from paranoid delusions of some type,” Scott has “both a factual and rational understanding that he committed those murders, was tried and convicted, and is sentenced to die for them.”  Those who support Scott’s execution claim that Scott was pretending to be insane, while those who oppose Scott’s execution point to his long record of psychiatric facility stays.  His lawyers are asking that Scott be re-examined for mental competency.

 

Scott has had his request for a stay of execution denied by State District Judge N. Keith Williams.  The stay was requested by Scott's attorneys to give additional time for Scott's mental competency to be reviewed.  Scott had also had a request for a stay of execution denied by the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and the Texas Board of Pardon and Paroles unanimously rejected a request for clemency and a request for a stay of execution.

 

A 2002 Supreme Court decision forbade the execution of a mentally incompetent individuals, however, that does not mean that any inmate suffering from mental illness is automatically barred from executions.  The inmate can be executed so long as they have a rational understanding of why they are being executed.

 

Please pray for peace and healing for the family of Joe and Amanda Alvardo.  Please pray for strength for the family of Scott.  Please pray that Scott may come to find peace through  personal relationship with Jesus Christ, if he has not already found one.

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