JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — A Mississippi judge will hold a hearing next month to determine if a death row inmate truly wants to request an execution date and if the inmate is mentally competent to waive appeals in the case.
In court papers filed Monday, a special assistant state attorney general said the hearing for Blayde Nathaniel Grayson is scheduled for April 7 before George County Circuit Judge Kathy King Jackson.
The state Supreme Court on Jan. 28 ordered that Grayson, 46, be put under oath to say whether he wishes to go forward with his request for the state to schedule his lethal injection.
Grayson was convicted of capital murder in 1997 in the 1996 stabbing death of 78-year-old Minnie Smith during a burglary of her home in south Mississippi’s George County.
He said in a handwritten letter to the state Supreme Court in early December: “I ask to see that my execution should be carried out forthwith.” Grayson also said then that he wanted to end all of his appeals.
Grayson’s attorney, David Voisin, submitted a separate letter days later asking justices to disregard Grayson’s request because Grayson still had an appeal pending in federal court.
On Jan. 31, Voisin and another attorney submitted papers to the state Supreme Court saying Grayson wanted to withdraw his request for an execution date. They also said Grayson wanted to keep his remaining appeals.
In written arguments Feb. 2, state Attorney General Lynn Fitch said Grayson's request should remain in place so the George County circuit judge can hold the competency hearing.
The state Supreme Court ruled Feb. 22 that Grayson could not withdraw the request for an execution date. One of the current state Supreme Court justices, David Ishee, represented Grayson during his trial and during some appeals of the conviction. Ishee did not take part in the Feb. 22 decision.
Mississippi on Nov. 17 carried out its first execution in nine years, giving a lethal injection to David Neal Cox, who surrendered all appeals and described himself as “worthy of death.” A jury in north Mississippi sentenced Cox to death after he pleaded guilty to killing his estranged wife and sexually assaulting his stepdaughter in front of her dying mother.