Rick Perry Death Watch

Green spared execution – for now

Jonathan Green
Jonathan Green

At press time, the fate of Jonathan Marcus Green, slated for execution Oct. 10, remained unknown, after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a stay issued Monday by federal District Judge Nancy Atlas. The state, Atlas ruled, denied Green his due process rights – in part by preventing Green from presenting evidence of his mental illness during a competency hearing back in 2010. Moreover, the trial court judge who concluded that Green is sane enough to die improperly solicited an order to that effect, written by prosecutors from the perspective of the judge, and without giving Green any chance to object. "It is clear from the record that, at a minimum, the trial court prevented Green from presenting testimony by treating mental health professionals, relied on an order solicited from and drafted by the State to which Green had no opportunity to object, and applied at least one incorrect legal standard" in concluding that Green could be executed, Atlas wrote. That was not enough to sway the appeals court, which ruled that Green had ample opportunity to present his side of the case and that the state court hearing the case did nothing improper.

Jonathan Green
Jonathan Green

Green was convicted and sentenced to die for the rape and murder of 12-year-old Christina Neal, who disappeared near Lake Conroe on June 21, 2000.

Since he was sentenced to die and moved to death row, Texas Department of Criminal Justice doctors have developed an extensive record on Green, who suffers from schizophrenia, but were not called to testify at his 2010 competency hearing because Judge Lisa Michalk gave the lawyers just two business days to prepare for the hearing, Atlas wrote in her Oct. 8 ruling. Instead, the court heard only from one expert from each side. Green's medical expert, who had visited with him on several occasions and had administered a battery of tests before concluding that he was ill and not malingering, was considered not credible in the Michalk ruling that was written by the prosecutors' office. The state's expert, who spent no more than three hours total with Green and administered no psychological tests, concluded that Green is not schizophrenic and could be executed.

For more on Green, see "The View From Death Row," Oct. 5.

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