Dec. 6 (UPI) — An Oklahoma judge on Monday ordered a stay of the execution of a death row inmate scheduled to die next month pending a trial to determine whether he is competent to be executed.
A judge in November had ordered a mental health competency trial for Wade Lay, 60, but Oklahoma law requires a competency determination to be made by a jury and the next jury call in Pittsburg County was not available until after Lay’s scheduled execution date of Jan. 6.
“Wade Lay believes he is being executed as part of a vast government conspiracy aimed at silencing him,” Sara Jernigan, an attorney for Lay, said in a statement. “The court correctly found sufficient concern about his competency to warrant a trial and ensured that he will not be executed while incompetent by granting a stay until the final trial can be conducted.”
The stay prevents Lay from being executed until after the completion of the competency trial “to ensure an incompetent person is not irreparably harmed by way of execution,” the order states.
Judge Tim Mills ordered the competency trial based on a psychiatric evaluation by Dr. Richart DeMier who determined that Way “lacks a rational understanding of the basis for his execution” and suffers from “false beliefs that there is a conspiracy among courts and possibly his attorneys” to use his execution to “silence” his beliefs on the U.S. Constitution.
He was one of several death row inmates whose executions were set for Jan. 6 earlier this year after Oklahoma ended a hiatus on its troubled lethal injection protocol in February 2020.