Judge orders stay of execution of Oklahoma death row prisoner with schizophrenia

This undated booking photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, shows death row inmate Wade Lay. On Monday, Dec. 6, 20212, a state court judge in Oklahoma granted a temporary stay of execution for Lay, convicted of killing a security guard during a 2004 bank robbery in Tulsa.
This undated booking photo provided by the Oklahoma Department of Corrections, shows death row inmate Wade Lay. On Monday, Dec. 6, 20212, a state court judge in Oklahoma granted a temporary stay of execution for Lay, convicted of killing a security guard during a 2004 bank robbery in Tulsa. Oklahoma Department of Corrections via AP
  • A judge granted a stay on Wade Lay’s execution pending a decision on his mental competency.
  • Lay believes his execution is a “government conspiracy aimed at silencing him,” his attorney said. 
  • Oklahoma has resumed executions following a six-year pause due to botched lethal injections.

A Pittsburgh County judge ordered the state of Oklahoma on Monday to stay the execution of a death row inmate until a trial determines his mental competency, according to the stay order.

Wade Greely Lay and his son were convicted of first-degree murder and attempted robbery with a firearm for the killing of Kenneth Anderson, a security guard, during an armed robbery of a Tulsa bank in 2004, according to court documents

They both pleaded guilty during their 2005 trial but argued that the robbery was necessary because “the government had become tyrannical, and they needed funds from the bank to start a patriotic revolution as was done by the Founding Fathers,” per court documents

Lay’s son, Chris, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Wade Greely Lay received a death sentence.

But, on Monday Pittsburgh County District Court Associate District Judge Tim Mills found “good reason to believe” that Lay is not “presently competent to be executed” — exactly a month before his scheduled execution.

“Wade Lay believes he is being executed as part of a vast government conspiracy aimed at silencing him,” Sarah Jernigan, attorney for Wade Lay, said in an emailed statement provided to Insider on Monday.

Psychologist Dr. Richart DeMier agreed in September, and diagnosed Lay with schizophrenia, according to The Oklahoman.

“The court correctly found sufficient concern about his competency to warrant a trial, and ensured that he will not be executed while incompetent by granting a stay until the trial can be conducted,” she added.

The court also found that Warden Jim Farris “abused his discretion in failing to refer the matter for competency proceedings,” which Lay’s attorneys argue made it impossible for competency proceedings to take place prior to his execution, scheduled for January 6, 2022. 

The stay order will remain in place until further notice from the Court. 

The state of Oklahoma restarted executions following a series of botched executions in 2014 and 2015 — forcing the state to pause for six years, according to The New York Times. Oklahoma Attorney General John O’Connor sought dates in August for seven men to be executed.

John Grant was the first. He convulsed and vomited during his 12-minute execution by lethal injection, according to The Washington Post

Gov. Kevin Stitt ordered the commutation of Julius Jones on November 18, just hours before his scheduled execution, as the evidence of his conviction was questioned by community members and the Pardon and Parole board.

Five more people are scheduled for execution by the state of Oklahoma, including Donald Grant — an inmate who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and suffered from brain damage — who the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board denied clemency to in November, according to The Oklahoman. Grant’s execution is scheduled for January 27.

The Oklahoma attorney general, the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, and Stitt’s office did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.