A federal appeals court in Atlanta has issued a last-minute stay of execution on John Ferguson, a man suffering from schizophrenia who killed 8 people. The Supreme Court earlier this evening denied 3 emergency appeals, and he was being prepped for the execution when the order came down. He had already eaten his last meal. The State has filed an emergency appeal to the Supreme Court asking them to allow the execution to proceed.
This is the stuff of movies. All death sentence cases have last-minute appeals, often in state and federal courts. However, it’s highly unusual for them to be granted, especially at such a late hour, especially by a lower court after the Supremes Rule.
I haven’t been following the case that closely, though it has garnered some interest due to the fact that Mr. Ferguson has extreme mental health issues: Scott Greenfield calls him “Crazy John Ferguson”. The AP has some good background– it’s tough to track this case, as so much is happening so quickly, and courts don’t handle quickly well. @FloridaLegal has found a link to the stay order. The briefs will be due in a matter of weeks, which wold hold the execution that long… unless the Supreme Court steps in. It would be highly unlikely for the court to rule that there is no issue to be heard to lift the stay, but nothing would surprise me at this point. #johnferguson
UPDATE: Supreme Court will not step in tonight. Thanks @Floridalegal: http://www.supremecourt.gov/orders/courtorders/102312zr4.pdf