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Correction to This Article
A June 8 Metro article about death row inmate Percy Levar Walton incorrectly identified J. Martin Tucker as a spokesman for the Virginia Attorney General's Office. The spokesman's name is J. Tucker Martin.
DEATH PENALTY CASE

Inmate's Execution Still Set for Tonight

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By Candace Rondeaux
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 8, 2006

Virginia death-row inmate Percy Levar Walton has said he knows exactly what will happen if the state executes him tonight for killing three people a decade ago. He believes, his attorneys say, that his execution not only will bring the victims back to life, but it might also secure him a spot on national television, raise his grandfather from the dead and earn him a trip to Burger King on a motorcycle.

Walton's attorneys say that Walton, 27, who experts agree is mentally retarded and schizophrenic, has spent most of his time on death row pacing his cell, collecting piles of salt and pepper packets and babbling nonsensically to himself.

But J. Martin Tucker, a spokesman for Virginia Attorney General Robert F. McDonnell (R), says Walton is "competent to stand for execution."

Walton won a reprieve yesterday after a federal judge in Norfolk halted his execution pending a U.S. Supreme Court decision about the constitutionality of lethal injection. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond granted McDonnell's request to vacate the stay, and Walton is scheduled to be executed at 9 p.m.

In a May 22 appeal, attorneys for Walton said his "mental illness and severe cognitive defects" make it unlikely that he could alert his executioners to problems with the lethal injection procedure.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Beach Smith issued a restraining order the next day and extended a full stay of execution yesterday. Her order was vacated by the appeals court in a matter of hours.

In April, attorneys for Florida inmate Clarence E. Hill argued before the Supreme Court that the three-drug combination used to execute death-row inmates would cause unnecessary pain, violating the constitutional prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. A decision in that case is expected before the end of the month.

The decision late yesterday by the Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit will not end efforts to keep Walton from the death chamber, his attorneys said.

"Walton's case will come back up," said attorney F. Nash Bilisoly. "The fact remains that a man with an IQ of 66 will be scheduled to be executed."

Prosecutors and psychiatrists have debated for years whether Walton's mental illness should bar him from being executed. That debate could come to an abrupt end without intervention by the U.S. Supreme Court or Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D).

A spokesman for Kaine said yesterday that the governor is reviewing Walton's case.

Jennifer Givens, co-counsel on Walton's case, said that in recent days, she and Bilisoly have repeatedly explained to Walton that he could soon die. But they believe he cannot comprehend that.


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