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Death row inmate seeks execution; judge to decide competency

JACKSON, Miss. – A Mississippi judge will decide whether a condemned inmate who says he wants to be executed is mentally competent to waive all his appeals.

The state Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the investigation in the case of David Cox.

Cox wrote to Mississippi Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. in August saying that he wanted to fire his attorneys, represent all of his appeals and the state Supreme Court, his execution date.

“I want in all seriousness to (waive) my appeal immediately, I will seek to be executed as I do here on this day, on MS death row is a guilty man deserves the death — like give me this plea,” Cox wrote in the Aug. 16 letter .

Cox pleaded guilty to shooting his wife Kim in 2010 in the Union County town of Shannon, raping her daughter for her, and watching Kim Cox die as police negotiators and family begged for her life. He also pleaded guilty to seven other crimes, without making a deal with the prosecutors, that are excluded from the death penalty. A jury sentenced him to death.

In another letter in July to the Union County District Attorney Ben Creekmore, Cox wrote that “if I had my perfect way, and will I ever so love to dig my death (sarcastic) woman, to whom I am very happy and premeditatedly slaughtered on 5-21-2010 and with eager pleasure to kill” her again.

Cox’s lawyers claim that he is mentally ill and is not competent to waive his appeals, and that it is unconstitutional for the state to execute him.

“There is no reliable evidence that Mr. Cox has a free or unrestrained will be required to submit a fixed, voluntary waiver of his right to pursue post-conviction remedies,” wrote Benjamin H. McGee III of the state of the Office of Post-Conviction Counsel.

In support of that, he brought Cox itself. In a Nov. 7 letter to McGee, Cox wrote that he’s divided between “skin 1” which wants to continue with the appeal and the skin “2” who wants to be carried out.

“The skin 1 is not prepared, as the Skin 2 is willing to surrender all counsel & appeal — still. David Cox, as a whole, is not one device, but two — David Cox within David Cox is a living division of separate case within the same ship of life,” Cox wrote in the Nov. 7 letter .

McGee has filed a fresh petition with the Mississippi river, the counselors looking for a new sentencing hearing. The lawyer says Cox’s trial lawyers for not adequately lay out the history of abuse that Cox endured as a child, including poverty, neglect, parental neglect, chronic exposure to pornography and witnessing his father sexually abuse his sister. Cox’s sister, in a sworn affidavit, said he dropped out of school and blew gas “all day”, later becoming addicted to methamphetamine. Lawyers argued the substance abuse permanently injured his brain and that it is unconstitutional to execute him, just as the supreme court has ruled that it is unconstitutional to execute someone with an intellectual disability.

“Mr. Cox’s anger, violence, and impulse control problems are the product of brain damage, not a reflection of the choice or the character. He has a serious psychopathology – that is a serious mental disorder or mental illness – but he’s not a psychopath.” Forensic psychologist Robert Stanulis wrote in a report for the defense.

Mississippi has not executed anyone since 2012, in the midst of legal disputes over lethal injection procedures and difficulties with the procurement of the execution drugs.

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Follow Jeff Amy at: http://twitter.com/jeffamy .

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