HUNTSVILLE, Texas — A federal judge Wednesday blocked the execution of a convicted killer whose erratic behavior at trial included dressing like a cowboy and trying to subpoena Jesus Christ.
Acting a day before Scott Panetti was set to die by injection, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks granted a 60-day stay so that a state judge can reconsider whether Panetti is too mentally ill to be executed.
Sparks said evidence presented by Panetti's lawyer indicated Panetti was "delusional and misunderstands whether and why he will be executed."
Panetti, 45, was sentenced to death for the 1992 slayings of his estranged wife's parents.
During his trial, he fired his lawyer and insisted on representing himself. Panetti wore cowboy attire during the proceedings, mimicking the Ringo Kid, the John Wayne character in the classic Western "Stagecoach."
Panetti blamed the shootings on "Sarge," one of his personalities. During jury selection, he flipped a coin to decide whether a potential juror should be on the panel. He tried to subpoena Jesus and John F. Kennedy.