State declines to appeal Overstreet competency ruling

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The Office of the Indiana Attorney General announced Tuesday it will not appeal a special judge’s ruling that a man on death row is not competent and therefore cannot be executed.

Special Judge Jane Woodward Miller ruled Nov. 20 that Michael Dean Overstreet was competent at trial, but that his mental condition has deteriorated while in prison and he cannot currently comprehend that execution would result in his death.

A statement from the AG’s office says that the Indiana Supreme Court would likely find Miller’s decision reasonable under the circumstances and not overturn it.

“My office has defended the conviction obtained by the prosecutor for the past 14 years during multiple appeals and will continue to faithfully defend the jury’s verdict and death sentence as is the duty of the Office of the Attorney General. The court’s decision does not overturn the conviction nor does it set aside the sentence. My decision was based on the conclusion that Judge Miller’s determination of incompetency was done in a manner as set out by the United States Supreme Court that did not provide adequate grounds for appeal,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller said.

Overstreet is on death row for the 1997 abduction, rape and murder of Franklin College student Kelly Eckart. He was convicted in 2000, and his conviction and sentence have previously been upheld by state and federal appellate courts.

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