The Northern Virginia Daily's Political Depot

A service for our readers outside the Northern Shenandoah Valley... a sampling of The Daily's political coverage, plus unofficial, 'reporter's notebook' stuff. And occasional dry humor...

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Thursday, June 08, 2006

Raw Data: Kaine Postpones Execution

From the governor's press office...

June 8, 2006

~ On the scheduled execution of Percy Levar Walton ~

RICHMOND - Governor Timothy M. Kaine issued the following statement on the scheduled execution of Percy Levar Walton by the Commonwealth of Virginia:

"Percy Levar Walton was convicted of the murders of Jessie E. Kendrick, Elizabeth W. Kendrick, and Archie D. Moore, Jr. between November 19 and 28, 1996. He killed these three innocent people in their homes - where people should feel most secure from acts
of violence. Mr. Walton admitted that he committed these horrific crimes and, after pleading guilty, was sentenced to death.

"Given the nature of these crimes, I have no reason to question the prosecutor's decision to seek the death penalty or the judge's decision that death was an appropriate sentence. In addition to the death sentence, Walton was sentenced to life sentences for each of three robbery convictions, ten years for burglary, and three years for each of six firearms convictions.

"State and federal courts have consistently upheld Walton's convictions. However, courts considering his death sentence have struggled with the question of whether his mental capacity imposes a bar to his execution.

"It is unconstitutional to execute a person who is mentally incompetent. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that a person must have sufficient mental capacity to understand the punishment he is about to suffer, and why he is to suffer it."

"A few days before Walton's scheduled execution date of May 28, 2003, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia granted Walton a stay of execution in order to determine Walton's mental competence. "

In July 2003, following extensive submission of evidence about Walton's mental state from 1997 through 2003, the court ruled that he was competent to be executed. A three-judge panel of appellate judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit vacated the lower court ruling, directing a broader inquiry into Walton's mental state. Before that inquiry took place, the entire court reconsidered the panel's decision in an en banc review. The en banc Court found Walton competent to be executed by a narrow 7-6 majority."

"In issuing its ruling, the Fourth Circuit properly limited its consideration to the evidence before it regarding Walton's mental state as of 2003. However, three years have passed since the evidence was presented. "

"Walton's clemency petition presents significant information suggesting that he has schizophrenia, that such a mental illness can cause serious deterioration of mental competence, and that there is more than a minimal chance that Walton no longer knows why he is to be executed or is even aware of the punishment he is about to receive. "

"Due to the history of judicial concern about his mental status, the claims in Walton's clemency petition are entitled to serious consideration."

"In order to comply with the law forbidding execution of a mentally incompetent person and to insure just application of Virginia's capital punishment statute, it is important to have current and independent information about Walton's mental condition. "

"It would be imprudent to either proceed with the execution or grant clemency without further

"Therefore, I have decided to delay Walton's execution date until December 8, 2006, for the purpose of conducting an independent evaluation of his mental condition and competence, on terms and conditions prescribed by this office."
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