Wade Lay is set to be executed Jan. 6 for the slaying of a Tulsa, Okla., bank security guard in 2004. Photo courtesy Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections
Dec. 2 (UPI) -- Defense attorneys for an Oklahoma death row inmate scheduled to die next month are seeking to stay the execution, citing a state judge's order for a mental health competency trial for Wade Lay.
Lay, 60, is set to be executed by lethal injection on Jan. 6 for the 2004 murder of 36-year-old bank security officer Kenneth Anderson during an attempted bank robbery in Tulsa, Okla.
Lay is one of several death row inmates whose executions were set for Jan. 6 earlier this year after Oklahoma ended a hiatus on its troubled lethal injection protocol in February 2020.
Lay's attorneys filed a motion for a stay Wednesday in Pittsburg County, Okla., District Court, urging a halt to the execution. The filing came soon after Judge Tim Mills ordered a competency trial based on a psychiatric report concluding there is "good reason to believe" Lay is incompetent to be executed.
In the psychiatric report, Dr. Richart DeMier, who examined Lay in September, determined that he "lacks a rational understanding of the basis for his execution" and suffers from "false beliefs that there is a conspiracy among courts and possibly his attorneys" to use his execution to "silence" his beliefs on the U.S. Constitution.
Lay's attorney, Sarah Jernigan, said executing him would violate the Eighth Amendment because he "believes he is being killed as part of a government plot to silence him."
"Mr. Lay's delusions are well-known and have been apparent to everyone who interacts with him for decades, so the state's failure to initiate competency proceedings until now is inexplicable," she said in statement provided to UPI.
Jernigan presented evidence purporting to show that Lay's delusions go back decades, including statements by his original attorney in 2004 who said a trial judge erred in allowing Lay to dismiss his attorneys and represent himself.
Lay's son, Christopher Lay, who was tried and convicted along with his father for Anderson's murder, told the Tulsa World in 2019 that Wade Lay was obsessed with anti-government conspiracy theories and the events at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas.
The bank robbery, prosecutors said in 2005, was part of a "self-proclaimed mission" by Lay "to (avenge) Waco."