The case of John Errol Ferguson, executed Monday in Florida, raised the thorny question of how much mental illness is too much for someone facing execution. But the US Supreme Court declined to intervene.
Florida Department of Corrections/AP
The state of Florida on Monday executed a longtime death row inmate who believed he was the “Prince of God” and whose lawyers had argued that he was too mentally ill to face capital punishment.
John Errol Ferguson was executed by lethal injection at the Florida State Prison in Starke, where he had been on death row since his convictions on multiple murder charges in the late 1970s. He was pronounced dead at 6:17 p.m.
The action came after the US Supreme Court turned down a final appeal urging the justices to take up the Ferguson case to examine the difficult question of how much mental illness is too much mental illness for someone facing capital punishment.
Ferguson’s lawyer, Christopher Handman, said he was “gravely disappointed” that the high court had declined to hear the appeal. “Mr. Ferguson has been profoundly mentally ill for four decades…, but is now deemed suddenly and inexplicably cured,” he said in a statement.
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