- Associated Press - Friday, April 18, 2014

LEBANON, Pa. (AP) - A judge has ruled that a man sentenced to death in the murder of a south-central Pennsylvania woman more than three decades ago is incapacitated and incompetent.

Judge John Tylwalk’s ruling came at the end of a competency hearing Thursday for 56-year-old Freeman May, the Lebanon Daily News (https://bit.ly/1eH2Jcd ) reported. May was convicted of the 1982 stabbing death of Kathy Lynn Fair, 22, whose remains were found six years later in woods in Lebanon County.

Forensic psychologist William Russell testified that May suffered from a delusional disorder in which a person “develops a fixed belief that something happened … despite solid evidence to the contrary.”

May has “a very fixed belief that within his letters is evidence of his innocence,” Russell said, adding that the letters May sent from prison to lawyers and the judge have “a religious overtone.” When questioned about his “evidence,” May responded, “It’s the Lord’s will that this should be,” the psychologist said.

Russell said May suffers from “bad genetics, a horribly abusive childhood (including physical and sexual abuse) and substance abuse.” He said May can understand what is going on around him but “has an inability to let go of the delusion.”

District Attorney David Arnold said an issue that arose following May’s third penalty phase hearing could result in another appeal of his death sentence: May was shackled during the proceedings, which courts have ruled could prejudice a jury.

“I believe he should have been executed years ago,” Arnold said. “I’ve seen what’s happened with Mr. May over several years. I have nothing to dispute with Mr. Russell. If you’re not competent, you can’t be put to death.”

May was convicted of killing Fair and sentenced to death in 1991. The sentence was reversed but reinstated after a second penalty phase hearing in 1995. An appeals court again vacated the death sentence but it was reinstated by a jury in 2008 following a third penalty phase hearing.

“I believe Mr. May is unable to properly analyze his options,” Tylwalk said Thursday. Such options include acceptance of a life sentence, a possible fourth penalty phase trial or death by lethal injection.

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Information from: Lebanon Daily News, https://www.ldnews.com

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