Arkansas Governor Urged to Spare Killer’s Life

Convicted murderer Jack Greene. Photo courtesy of the Arkansas Department of Corrections.

(CN) – A nationwide group of lawyers joined 28 mental health professionals in urging the governor of Arkansas to stop the Nov. 9 execution of convicted killer Jack Greene, saying he suffers from mental illness and delusions.

Arkansas has a new supply of execution drug midazolam that expires in January 2019, setting the stage for the state’s first execution since four inmates died by lethal injection over eight days in April.

Greene, 62, is on death row for the brutal 1991 killing of Sidney Burnett, who was beaten with a can of hominy before being shot in the chest and head. The 69-year-old retired minister also had his throat slit when he was bound in his Johnson County home, according to court records.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican, is said to be reviewing the case.

In a letter to Hutchinson on Wednesday, the American Bar Association said it has “significant concerns” about whether the death penalty is the appropriate punishment in Greene’s case in light of his severe mental illness.

Twenty-eight mental health professionals also urged the governor to spare Greene’s life, saying his execution would be “morally and ethically wrong.”

The Arkansas Parole Board unanimously recommended against clemency earlier this month.

Scott Braden, an attorney for Greene, said that despite the parole board’s recommendation, his client does indeed suffer from severe mental illness and does not understand his execution.

“This mental illness causes Mr. Greene to have delusions about a conspiracy to injure him, as even Arkansas Department of Correction staff have recognized. These delusions so cloud Mr. Greene’s thinking that, as a psychiatrist has determined, he does not rationally understand his execution,” Braden said in a statement after the board’s vote.

If Greene’s execution moves forward as scheduled, he would become the fifth Arkansas inmate to die by lethal injection this year. Prior to April, the state had not put an inmate to death since November 2005.

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