Death row inmate's competency trial continued

Apr. 24—A competency trial for an Oklahoma death row inmate scheduled to be executed in June was continued.

Wade Lay, 63, was set to be the first inmate executed in America in 2022 before a southeast Oklahoma district judge ordered a stay in December 2021.

Under a now struck state law, District 18 District Attorney Chuck Sullivan filed a petition in March 2022 asking for a competency inquiry of Lay. The new law, which went into effect in late 2022 states a death row inmate must file a motion with OCCA alleging incompetency within seven days after the AG filed a motion seeking an execution date.

Sullivan made the request after the Oklahoma State Court of Criminal Appeals upheld a judge's stay of execution after he found "good reason to believe" Lay was not competent to be executed.

District 18 Associate District Judge Tim Mills ordered "the execution competency trial of Mr. Wade Lay set for the first week of the May 2024 jury docket, beginning April 29, 2024."

Court records show Mills struck the trial from the May trial docket "to be reset upon motion of either party."

No motions to reset the trial were filed as of Tuesday.

Lay, who was convicted in the 2004 shooting death of Tulsa-area bank security guard Kenneth Anderson, was originally scheduled for lethal injection Jan. 6, 2022, at the Oklahoma State Penitentiary in McAlester. He is currently scheduled for execution in August 2024, pending the outcome of his competency trial.

Mills ruled in December 2021 that he found "good reason to believe" Lay was not competent to be executed and granted an execution stay.

He wrote in his order "it is unavoidable that a jury cannot be empaneled to consider Mr. Lay's competency claim before his December 15, 2021, clemency hearing and January 6, 2022, execution date."

The judge wrote that OSP Warden Jim Farris "abused his discretion in failing to call such fact to the attention of the District Attorney of Pittsburg County" and ordered the warden to commence the process.

Lay's attorneys argued a doctor concluded in September 2021 he "is not competent for execution." The AG's Office has argued that Lay "is a domestic terrorist" and murdered Anderson "as part of an effort to obtain funds to avenge the government's actions at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, and at Ruby Ridge (in Idaho)."

The AG's office also stated Lay was found competent to stand trial by the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals with the decision affirmed by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma and the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.