- The Washington Times - Monday, June 9, 2008

RICHMOND | A Virginia man whose execution has been pushed back three times because of questions about his mental capacity is scheduled to die Tuesday unless the governor or courts step in again.

Percy Walton, 29, was sent to death row for robbing and killing three neighbors in Danville in 1996. He is set to die by lethal injection at 9 p.m. Tuesday and would become the 100th person executed in Virginia since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976. Only Texas, with 405, has executed more convicts.

A federal court stopped Walton’s execution in 2003, three days before it was scheduled, to allow time to determine whether Walton understood he was going to die and why.

In June 2006, Gov. Tim Kaine, a Democrat, granted a reprieve two hours before Walton was set to die and ordered an evaluation of his mental condition. That December, Mr. Kaine delayed the execution an additional 18 months.

At the time, Mr. Kaine said he thought Walton met the Supreme Court’s definition of mental incompetence, but that it was possible - though unlikely - that his condition was temporary. The governor’s spokesman said Mr. Kaine was reviewing Walton’s clemency petition, but he would not comment on the case.

Mr. Kaine, a Roman Catholic, has personal, faith-based objections to the death penalty, but five executions have taken place since he became governor in 2006, including one last month. He has yet to commute a death-row inmate’s sentence.

Walton’s attorneys say he has not improved.

“His mental condition, in my own opinion, is just as it was, if not worse,” Nash Bilisoly said.

Walton’s attorneys say their client suffers from schizophrenia and that he does not understand his execution.

Walton has said that after he is put to death, he plans to go to Burger King and maybe ride a motorcycle. But he also has referred to the execution as “the end” and said before his trial that the “chair is for killers.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled it unconstitutional to execute the insane or those with an IQ less than 70, established by the age of 18, who lack basic adaptive skills.

No competency hearing was held before Walton was sentenced to death, and mental evaluations have yielded conflicting results.

Walton scored 90 and 77 on intelligence tests taken when he was 17 and 18, respectively. After he was sentenced to death, Walton’s scores declined.

Several of Walton’s fellow death-row inmates told the Associated Press in 2006 that Walton spends his days laughing to himself and talking to voices in his head, and that he is incapable of engaging in meaningful conversation. Walton’s prison nickname is “Crazy Horse.”

A prison guard once testified that Walton refused to shower, complaining about a man in a white suit sitting on a gray box in his cell. One prison psychiatrist testified that Walton was “floridly psychotic.”

Others question whether it’s all an act. Several inmates testified that Walton told them he planned to “play crazy.” Another prison psychiatrist testified that he considered Walton “a mentally limited, street-wise predator.”

Walton pleaded guilty in 1997 to the murders of Jessie and Elizabeth Kendrick, a couple in their 80s, and 33-year-old Archie Moore, an aviation instructor at a nearby college.

The Kendricks’ bodies were found Nov. 26, 1996, in their town house, both shot in the head from close range. Mr. Moore’s body was found in a closet of his apartment two days later. Mrs. Kendrick’s sister, Irene Jurscaga, has prepared twice to watch Walton be executed, but said health problems will prevent her from attending this scheduled execution. Mrs. Jurscaga said she has written to Mr. Kaine several times detailing how difficult his decision has been on the family.

“It is sad that this young man has lived as long as he has,” said Mrs. Jurscaga, 87, of Suffolk.

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