64-Year-Old Paranoid Schizophrenic Executed In Florida

John FergusonReuters/Florida Department of CorrectionsJohn Errol Ferguson, 64, shown in this undated Florida Department of Corrections photograph was executed on Monday

A US man convicted of killing eight people in 1977 and 1978, but diagnosed as mentally ill, was executed in Florida, despite protests from medical experts.

John Ferguson, a paranoid schizophrenic, was declared dead from lethal injection at 6:17 pm local time (2217 GMT), a prison spokesman said.

In his final words, the inmate said he was “the Prince of God”, a phrase he used for himself often, according to his lawyer Chris Handman.

His death sentence had raised protests from several groups of mental health experts, doctors and lawyers, who had petitioned on his behalf at the US Supreme Court, saying he was incapable of understanding the punishment.

But the nation’s top court rejected this final appeal Monday evening, its press service said.

The defence team said it was “gravely disappointed” the court had failed “to clarify the standard for evaluating an individual’s competence to be executed and denied his request to invoke the Court’s categorical bar on the execution of the insane.”

“Mr. Ferguson has been profoundly mentally ill for four decades, pre-dating the crimes for which he is scheduled to be executed,” Handman added in a statement published shortly before the inmate was put to death.

Ferguson, 65, who had spent 35 years on death row, was convicted of killing six people in a drug-related massacre in 1977 and of killing two teenagers in 1978.

His execution has been the subject of a long-running legal battle and was suspended once in September 2012.

Copyright (2013) AFP. All rights reserved.

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