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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Ind. Decisions - More on Timberlake execution date and process

Updating this entry from Dec. 16 about the Supreme Court's order setting a set a Jan. 19 execution date for the New Albany man who convicted of killing a state trooper, today the Louisville Courier Journal reports, in a story by Harold J. Adams:

Lawyers for a New Albany man scheduled to be put to death next month for the 1993 murder of an Indiana state trooper have asked a federal court to delay the execution.

The filing asks the U.S. District Court in Indianapolis to consider whether Norman Timberlake, 59, is insane and therefore does not qualify for the death penalty.

One legal expert said yesterday he believes there's a good chance the court will grant a stay of the Jan. 19 execution, and that it could then be years before another date is set.

"I think it's beginning to look unlikely now" that the execution will be carried out next month, said Joseph Hoffman, a nationally recognized death penalty expert at the Indiana University Law School.

U.S. District Judge Richard Young gave the state until tomorrow to respond to the request for a stay and a hearing on the insanity claim.

The Indiana attorney general's office will oppose a stay, spokeswoman Staci Schneider said. * * *

The issue presented to the federal court is the same one rejected by the Indiana Supreme Court earlier this month when it set the execution date. By a 3-2 majority, the court on Dec. 15 denied Timberlake's request to hold a sanity hearing in Marion Superior Court.

The court decided Timberlake showed no reasonable possibility that he would meet the U.S. Supreme Court's so-called Ford standard of insanity.

The Ford standard established that persons are insane -- and therefore shouldn't be executed -- if they are "unaware of the punishment they are about to suffer and why they are to suffer it."

Timberlake, despite being "severely mentally ill," understands that he is to be executed for the trooper's murder, the Indiana court said in its ruling.

It was the third time the justices have rejected an appeal by Timberlake and upheld his death sentence. The court said Timberlake had "exhausted the judicial review to which he is entitled as a matter of right."

The Indianapolis Star published a letter to the editor today on Indiana's lethal injection process. Some quotes:
In recent days a botched execution caused the governor of Florida to halt executions there and order an investigation into Florida's lethal injection process; a federal court in California found that state's lethal injection process violates the U.S. Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment, effectively imposing a moratorium; and Maryland's highest court ordered that state to open its lethal injection protocols for public scrutiny. These developments follow a study that found some of those executed by lethal injection were probably subjected to excruciating pain.

Indiana scheduled Norman Timberlake's execution for Jan. 19. Indiana uses the same lethal injection process as other states but so far does not seem concerned that it may be torturing its citizens to death. Lethal injection's promises of a humane death are proving false.

The Indiana Information Center on the Abolition of Capital Punishment calls on Gov. Daniels to immediately halt executions and appoint an independent commission to investigate Indiana's lethal injection process.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 28, 2006 03:07 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions