Ohio Supreme Court indefinitely postpones execution of Abdul
Tue Jun 19, 2012 16:25
Ohio Supreme Court indefinitely postpones execution of Abdul Awkal
Published: Monday, June 18, 2012 By Joe Guillen, The Plain Dealer
Associated Press fileOhio Supreme Court
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Ohio Supreme Court on Monday indefinitely postponed the execution of a convicted killer on the heels of a lower court’s ruling last week that he could not be executed because he is mentally incompetent.
Abdul Awkal was scheduled to be executed on Wednesday for killing his estranged wife and her brother 20 years ago inside the Old Lakeside Courthouse during a divorce and child custody dispute.
The high court’s ruling does not set a future execution date, but the court can set one if Awkal is found to be mentally competent in the future.
Awkal remains on death row in Chillicothe, according to a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
Brian Moriarty, an attorney for Awkal, said the execution could be delayed for a while because the state has executions scheduled through January 2014.
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Stuart Friedman last Friday determined that Awkal lacked the mental capacity to understand the connection between his crime and his punishment.
Awkal believes he has been working with the CIA to fight the war on terror and that the agency orchestrated his execution because it is upset with him, according to court documents.
Despite Friedman’s ruling last week, Awkal’s lawyers had to ask the Supreme Court to stop the execution because no other state court can delay an execution.
It will be prosecutors’ responsibility to request a future hearing to determine if Awkal’s mental state has changed so that he can be executed.
Moriarty said he is unsure how prosecutors would determine when to request another competency hearing.
He could not be reached for comment after the court ruled Monday evening.
A spokeswoman for Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Bill Mason referred to a statement Mason’s office released on Friday. The statement said Mason disagreed with Friedman’s ruling and that Awkal successfully manipulated the court. Mason plans to appeal Friedman's ruling.
Freidman’s ruling followed a weeklong hearing to determine whether Awkal understood why the state was going to kill him.
Awkal recently told multiple mental health experts he thinks the CIA is behind his execution because it believes that he “knows too much” or because he upset the agency by not following the chain of command when discussing information.
All five doctors who examined Awkal determined he was severely mentally ill, suffering from schizophrenia. But they also said they believe he can be restored to mental competency through the use of anti-psychotic drugs.
The doctors disagreed, however, in their diagnosis of Awkal’s capacity to understand the connection between his crime and his execution. Two testified they were not convinced Awkal had the mental capacity to understand why he had been sentenced to die; two others said they were unable to decide; and the fifth doctor suspected Awkal made up his CIA stories to avoid the death sentence.
Although Awkal has a lengthy history of mental illness, Friedman made it clear his ruling only examined whether Awkal currently is competent to be executed.
“No matter how heinous the crime, no matter how devastating its impact upon the victims, their families, or society as a whole, to execute a man who – due to severe mental illness – cannot fully and rationally appreciate the connection between his actions and his execution constitutes cruel and unusual punishment,” Friedman wrote in his ruling.
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