The Austin Chronicle

Inmate Claims Incompetence

By Jordan Smith, July 20, 2012, News

In January 2006, a little more than two years after he arrived on death row, Marcus Druery began reporting that he was hearing things – "noises ... bells. ... Sometimes I feel people call me ... no one there," he told prison medical staff, according to a new court filing. He'd been hearing this stuff for nearly two years. Druery's execution is scheduled for Aug. 1, but his lawyers with the Texas Defend­er Ser­vice are arguing that he is too mentally ill to be executed and asking that the Brazos County court hold a competency hearing.

Druery was sentenced to die for the kidnapping, robbery, and murder with two accomplices of 20-year-old Skyyler Browne in 2002 in Brazos County. Druery is slated to be the 484th person executed in Texas since the reinstatement of capital punishment; he would be the 245th person killed under the watch of Gov. Rick Perry.

But according to the defense motion, Druery is suffering from schizophrenia. He hears people talking to him and his cell echoing; he believes he was supposed to be released from prison years ago and doesn't understand why he's being kept on death row; he believes his food is poisoned and that he and his cell are "wired" so that everyone can hear what he thinks and says. In short, say his lawyers, Katherine Black and Greg Wiercioch, Druery is not sane enough to die. Executing a person with mental illness violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment, and the Supreme Court has ruled that an inmate must have some rational understanding of why he is set for execution.

Black and Wiercoch, who were reportedly rebuked by a Brazos County judge in early July for failing to file a motion by a previous deadline, are asking for "at least" two independent experts to review the case, interview Druery, and submit written reports at a final competency hearing to determine whether the state may go through with his execution. An initial competency review is scheduled for July 24.

In other death penalty news, at press time the state was still set to execute its 483rd inmate, Yokamon Hearn, despite claims of mental retardation, which would make him ineligible for execution (see "Appeal Denied, Another Heads to the Chamber," July 13).

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