John Middleton was issued a stay of execution Tuesday morning by Eastern Missouri U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry.
Based on a 1986 case, Ford v. Wainwright, Middleton has not been found incompetent to be executed, but as Perry stated in her order, he has made a substantial showing of insanity and is “entitled to a hearing on the issue.”
In Ford, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell wrote, “the Eighth Amendment forbids the execution only of those who are unaware of the punishment they are about to suffer and why they are to suffer it.”
Affidavits from fellow inmates and the counsel that has dealt with him indicate that years of methamphetamine abuse have caused mental illnesses, along with a deterioration of his mental state during his 17 years of incarceration, according to the motion of stay filed by Richard Sindel of Clayton, attorney for the defense.
The Attorney General’s Office reviewed the order and filed an appeal in the 8th District Court of Appeals shortly before noon Tuesday.
Middleton was arrested and sentenced to death for the 1995 murders of Alfred Pinegar, Randy Hamilton and Stacey Hodge. Middleton believed that the three had “snitched” on him, a methamphetamine dealer, to law enforcement, and they were on his “hit list,” according to court documents.
Middleton was previously scheduled to die July 30, 2008, but the Missouri Supreme Court stayed his execution in order to hear legal challenges to the state’s lethal injection protocol.