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Justices grant new avenue for relief for killer claiming insanity

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A man condemned for the 1997 rape and murder of an 18-year-old Franklin College student is entitled to a new avenue of post-conviction relief on his argument that he is not mentally competent to be executed, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.

Michael Dean Overstreet’s death sentence remains in force for his conviction in the killing of Kelly Eckart after unsuccessful post-conviction relief pleadings in state and federal courts. Evidence of Overstreet’s competence, including a forensic psychiatrist’s evaluation, led justices to authorize further arguments in Johnson Superior Court that could modify his death sentence.

The psychiatrist, Dr. Rahn K. Bailey, opined that “Overstreet does not have, and does not have the ability to produce, a rational understanding of why the State of Indiana plans to execute him,” Justice Robert Rucker wrote in the order.

The unanimous order denied oral argument before the justices but authorized filing by Sept. 13 of a successive petition for post-conviction relief “for the purpose of presenting the claim that Overstreet is not currently competent to be executed.” A final judgment on the post-conviction petition must be entered by March 3, 2014, justices ordered.

The court relied on its earlier PCR proceeding, Overstreet v. State, 877 N.E.2d 144, 172 (Ind. 2007), as well as the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Panetti v. Quarterman, 551 U.S. 930, 127 S.Ct. 2842, 168 L.Ed.2d 662 (2007) for guidance in setting a new round of sentencing review.

Eckart’s parents, Dale and Connie Sutton, told IL in 2011 that they believe the death sentence was appropriate for Overstreet. He remains one of 13 inmates on death row at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City, according to the Department of Correction.



 
 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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