- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 7, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Attorneys for an Oklahoma death row inmate have asked a federal judge to order a psychiatric evaluation and brain scan for their client, who they say is mentally ill and ineligible for execution.

Benjamin Cole was initially scheduled for execution Wednesday, but the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals halted all upcoming executions as the state investigates why the wrong lethal injection drug was sent in a different case.

The appeals court previously rejected Cole’s claims of insanity. On Tuesday, Cole’s attorneys filed a request for further medical testing, saying the inmate has schizophrenia and a brain lesion that have rendered him incompetent.

“This court should enter an order committing Mr. Cole to the custody of the Bureau of Prisons for designation to an appropriate facility where further physical and psychiatric testing can be performed to assist this court in adequately addressing the important constitutional question of whether Mr. Cole is competent to be executed,” public defender Michael Lieberman wrote in the request.

The state has not responded.



But in previous court filings and at Cole’s clemency hearing, prison officials testified that Cole could carry on a conversation and understood that he was sentenced to die for the 2002 killing of his 9-month-old daughter.

All Oklahoma executions are on hold at the request of Attorney General Scott Pruitt, as the state investigates why the Department of Corrections received potassium acetate, rather than potassium chloride, for its planned execution last week of Richard Glossip.

While Pruitt’s office looks into the drug mix-up, Gov. Mary Fallin has hired an outside attorney to advise her on the state’s execution protocols. Fallin’s office has four full-time employees in its legal division, including three attorneys and a legal assistant.

Fallin spokesman Alex Weintz confirmed Wednesday that her office has hired former U.S. Attorney Robert McCampbell, who previously represented Fallin in a case regarding the Open Records Act.

“The governor wanted advice from an independent legal counsel who was not involved in any of Oklahoma’s recent executions,” Weintz said.

A botched execution last year prompted an independent investigation and an overhaul of Oklahoma’s execution protocols.

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