Texas plans Tuesday execution of man who killed city inspector

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 22, 2016 7:06 AM

By Jon Herskovitz

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Texas plans to execute on Tuesday a convicted killer whose lawyers are appealing the death sentence, arguing that he was mentally ill when he shot a city code officer who had been sent out to inspect piles of garbage at the death row inmate's former home.

Adam Ward, 33, is set to be put to death by lethal injection at the state's death chamber in Huntsville at 6 p.m. local time. If the execution goes ahead, it would be the fifth this year in Texas, which has executed more offenders than any state after the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

Lawyers for Ward have filed an appeal to halt the execution, arguing he suffers from severe mental illness and executing him would run counter to U.S. constitutional protections against such moves.

"The crime for which Mr. Ward received the penalty of death was an act inextricable from the delusions and paranoia fed by his disabling bipolar disorder," lawyers for Ward said in a petition filed with the U.S. Supreme Court this month.

The Texas Attorney General's office has asked the court to allow the execution to proceed. It said that according to expert testimony provided at trial, Ward and his father, who shared a home, suffered similar delusions.

In 2005 in Commerce, about 65 miles northeast of Dallas, city code officer Michael Walker was called out to look at a heap of rubbish that Ward and his father hoarded inside and outside their home, the attorney general's office said.

The family also hoarded guns, it said.

When Walker approached the property taking pictures of its perimeter, Ward sprayed the city inspector with a hose he had been using to wash his car, and then argued with him, the office said.

Ward then went back in the house to get a gun, and shot Walker, who was 46.

"After Walker fell, Ward shot him again at close range. Walker sustained nine gunshot wounds in total and died," the office said.

Ward confessed to killing Walker shortly thereafter, explaining he believed the city was after his family and was going to tear down their home, it said.

(Reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by David Gregorio)