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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. Major social engineering imposed by judicial order well in advance of democratic change, has been the story of the whole post ww2 period. Contraception, desegregation, abortion, gay marriage: all rammed down the throats of Americans who didn't vote to change existing laws on any such thing, by the unelected lifetime tenure Supreme court heirarchs. Maybe people came to accept those things once imposed upon them, but, that's accommodation not acceptance; and surely not democracy. So let's quit lying to the kids telling them this is a democracy. Some sort of oligarchy, but no democracy that's for sure, and it never was. A bourgeois republic from day one.

  2. JD Massur, yes, brings to mind a similar stand at a Texas Mission in 1836. Or Vladivostok in 1918. As you seemingly gloat, to the victors go the spoils ... let the looting begin, right?

  3. I always wondered why high fence deer hunting was frowned upon? I guess you need to keep the population steady. If you don't, no one can enjoy hunting! Thanks for the post! Fence

  4. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  5. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

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