Mental illness finding wins death row inmate additional appeal

2013-09-04T15:33:00Z 2013-09-04T22:24:24Z Mental illness finding wins death row inmate additional appealBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
September 04, 2013 3:33 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | A death row inmate at the Indiana State Prison in Michigan City has won the chance to argue he's become too mentally ill in prison to be executed.

The Indiana Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that Michael Dean Overstreet, 46, can ask a Johnson County judge to determine by March 3, 2014, whether he is mentally competent to be put to death.

The justices said in their 5-0 decision that a forensic psychologist's recent finding that Overstreet no longer has an understanding, or the ability to understand, why the state plans to execute him warrants further review even though Overstreet's traditional appeals are exhausted.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused May 28 to hear Overstreet's final federal appeal. His death sentence was affirmed by the Indiana Supreme Court in 2003.

Overstreet was convicted in 2000 for the rape and murder of Kelly Eckart, 18, a Franklin College freshman from Boggstown.

She disappeared Sept. 26, 1997, after leaving work at the Franklin Wal-Mart. Her body was found four days later in a rural Brown County ravine.

The state's high court has adopted U.S. Supreme Court precedent prohibiting execution if the person to be put to death suffers from delusions that make it impossible for him or her to understand the meaning and purpose of the punishment.

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