Lawyer: Mental illness has kept man from fighting execution

AP News
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Posted: Nov 14, 2016 4:56 PM

ATLANTA (AP) — A lawyer argues that a Georgia man scheduled for execution this week hasn't pursued legal options to fight the punishment because he's mentally ill.

Attorney Brian Kammer argued in a court filing Monday that 54-year-old Steven Frederick Spears' constitutional rights were violated during his trial, sentencing and appeal. Spears has declined to initiate any post-conviction appeals and has refused to meet with or communicate with his trial lawyer for over a year.

Spears was convicted of murder in the August 2001 slaying of his ex-girlfriend, Sherri Holland. He's scheduled to be executed Wednesday.

The filing Monday was made on behalf of his ex-wife as a "next friend" petition, which is allowed when "a death-sentenced person declines to pursue available post-conviction legal remedies due to a mental disease or defect."