A US district court has delayed the country’s second federal execution in nearly two decades on the grounds that the man sentenced to death has dementia and does not understand his punishment.
Convicted murderer Wesley Purkey, who has been on death row for nearly 20 years, was scheduled for execution today at an Indiana penitentiary, but his execution by lethal injection was halted with just hours to go.
In her ruling, Washington, DC District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan found that “at least one of plaintiffs’ claims has a likelihood of success on the merits, and that absent a preliminary injunction, plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm”.
Mr Purkey's lawyers argued that since he suffers from advancing Alzheimer's disease, he cannot have a "rational understanding" of why he is to be executed, and instead suffers from delusions. Lawyer Rebecca Woodman says he believes that he is the victim of a vast conspiracy that has tried to poison him by spraying poison into his cell.