Judge rules man on death row not competent to be executed

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A special judge in Johnson County has ruled that Michael Dean Overstreet is not currently competent to be executed.

Overstreet was sentenced to death in 2000 for the abduction, rape and murder of Franklin College student Kelly Eckart in 1997.

St. Joseph Superior Judge Jane Woodward Miller, serving as a special judge in the case, granted the defense’s petition for post-conviction relief, the Office of the Indiana Attorney General said Thursday. Miller presided over a four-day hearing in South Bend in which Overstreet’s attorneys asked the court to find Overstreet is not competent to be executed.

A psychiatrist wrote in a report to the court that Overstreet has severe paranoid-type schizophrenia that causes delusions.

The Supreme Court of the United States reaffirmed in 2007 that death row inmates who are mentally ill cannot be executed if they cannot rationally understand why they are being executed and what execution means.

His convictions and sentence remain valid, but the state cannot carry out the sentence until and unless Overstreet becomes competent.

The AG’s office is reviewing the ruling and will decide whether to appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court.


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