Mentally Ill Man Eligible For Execution

AP, Feb. 11, 2003

LITTLE ROCK, Feb. 10 — A federal appeals court ruled today that a paranoid schizophrenic inmate who is sane only when forced to take medication is eligible for death row.

A sharply divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit lifted a stay of execution for Charles Singleton, saying his medically induced sanity makes him eligible for execution.

Singleton’s defense had argued it was in his best interest to take antipsychotic medicine — until the resulting sanity put him on the path to Arkansas’s death chamber. His lawyers asked that the sentence be reduced to life in prison.

Six of the 11 judges on the St. Louis-based panel said that because Singleton prefers to be medicated, and because Arkansas has an interest in having sane inmates, the side effect of sanity should not affect his fate.

The four dissenting judges said it would be wrong to execute Singleton, who becomes paranoid and delusional when not medicated, and sometimes is still psychotic while medicated. One judge abstained.

Singleton was convicted of fatally stabbing grocer Mary Lou York in a 1979 robbery. She identified him as her attacker before dying.

Singleton’s lawyer, Jeff Rosenzweig, said he plans to appeal to the Supreme Court.

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