A looming execution could be taken off the calendar because of a new report about murder Wade Lay's mental state.
His lawyers argue it proves their client is not mentally competent and that the prison warden delayed its delivery to a judge.
Lay was sentenced to death for the 2004 murder of Tulsa Air Force veteran and bank security guard Kenneth Anderson. Prosecutors said his intentions for the money were sinister but not insane.
An order from Pittsburg County associate district judge Tim Mills said a jury will ultimately decide if Lay is competent enough to be put to death.
Prosecutors claim the robbery gone wrong was a scheme to obtain funds to avenge the government's actions at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas and at Ruby Ridge.
A little over a month before his scheduled execution, Lay’s attorneys point to what they call his “persecutory delusions center around false beliefs that there is a conspiracy among courts and possibly his attorneys to use his execution to ‘silence him.’”
The state’s attorneys said Lay “…has some anti-government beliefs that are outside of the mainstream. This does not equate to insanity. After all, Timothy McVeigh – who killed 168 people -- was competent, as are many other persons with anti-government sentiments.”
Attorneys for Lay claim they sent penitentiary warden Jim Farris a mental evaluation in October.
This week, judge Mills agreed that information should have been passed along to the district attorney, adding it constitutes “good reason to believe” Lay is incompetent.
Mills added, “…Warden Farris abused his discretion in failing to call such fact to the attention of the District Attorney.”
Oklahoma City University law professor Maria Kolar explained the U.S. Supreme Court’s prohibition on executing mentally incompetent prisoners is twofold.
“It is to protect the person who would be subject to execution from what they called ‘fear and pain without comfort of understanding’ because the idea is someone who is incompetent doesn’t understand what is happening to them,” Kolar said. “The other justification was to protect what they call the dignity of society from barbarity of exacting mindless vengeance.”
Lay is scheduled to be executed Jan. 6. His attorneys are asking for a stay in his execution to allow time for the competency trial.