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Judge issues stay of execution for Oklahoma death row inmate Wade Lay

Judge issues stay of execution for Oklahoma death row inmate Wade Lay
A judge in Oklahoma stayed the execution of death row inmate Wade Lay until he is able to complete a mental health competency trial. Photo courtesy Oklahoma Dept. of Corrections

Dec. 6 (UPI) -- An Oklahoma judge on Monday ordered a stay of execution for a death row inmate who was scheduled to die next month, to determine whether he's mentally competent.

A judge in November had ordered a mental health competency trial for Wade Lay, 60, but Oklahoma law requires a competency determination to be made by a jury and the next jury call in Pittsburg County was not available until after Lay's scheduled execution date of Jan. 6.

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"Wade Lay believes he is being executed as part of a vast government conspiracy aimed at silencing him," Sara Jernigan, an attorney for Lay, said in a statement.

"The court correctly found sufficient concern about his competency to warrant a trial and ensured that he will not be executed while incompetent by granting a stay until the final trial can be conducted."

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The stay prevents Lay from being executed until after the completion of the competency trial "to ensure an incompetent person is not irreparably harmed by way of execution," the order states.

Lay was sentenced to execution by lethal injection after he was convicted for the 2004 murder of 36-year-old bank security officer Kenneth Anderson during an attempted bank robbery in Tulsa, Okla.

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Judge Tim Mills ordered the competency trial based on a psychiatric evaluation by Dr. Richart DeMier who determined that Way "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.

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Lay was 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.

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