August 29, 2005

Indiana governor halts scheduled execution

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels on Monday
spared the life of a man who was to be executed this week,
saying the inmate was delusional two decades ago when he
rejected a plea agreement for a life sentence.

Daniels commuted Arthur Baird's death sentence to life
without the possibility of parole. Baird had been facing death
by lethal injection before dawn Wednesday at the state prison
in Michigan City for killing his parents in 1985.

Daniels cited "certain unusual, probably unique,
circumstances" in the case, including the fact that Indiana law
at the time of Baird's trial did not provide for juries to
consider life without parole even though his family and members
of the jury that imposed the death sentence would have
preferred that option.

Prosecutors also had offered Baird a pretrial plea
agreement for life without parole which he accepted, then
suddenly rejected, "apparently due to his delusional state,"
Daniels said.

He added that courts had recognized Baird, 59, was
suffering from mental illness when he committed the crime.
Baird's lawyers contend he is still mentally ill.