Federal Public Defenders Argue Convicted Killer Too Mentally Disabled for Death Penalty

Apr 19, 2012


     DOVER, Del. (AP) - Federal public defenders trying to halt the execution of convicted Delaware killer Shannon Johnson say there is overwhelming evidence that he is mentally disabled and thus ineligible for execution.

     The public defenders made the assertion in a filing submitted to a federal appeals court in Philadelphia.

     The filing was in response to an appeal by state prosecutors of a federal district judge's decision Wednesday that halted Johnson's scheduled execution early Friday.

     Johnson has waived his right to further appeals and wants to be executed, but federal public defenders have intervened in his case without his consent, saying his estranged sister is now acting on his behalf.

     Prosecutors argue that Johnson's sister has no standing to try to intervene in the case and that the execution should proceed as scheduled.