Court stays controversial Texas execution
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A federal court is staying the execution of a Texas man, whose lawyers say is mentally ill, in a case that has brought Gov. Rick Perry (R) pressure from conservative groups.

A three-judge panel from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals stopped the execution of Scott Panetti “pending further order of the court to allow us to fully consider the late arriving and complex legal questions at issue in this matter.”

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“An order setting a briefing schedule and oral argument will follow,” the order said.

Panetti was convicted of killing his in-laws in 1992 and was set to be executed Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.

His lawyers say he has suffered from delusions since before committing the murders. He once buried furniture in his backyard to fend off the devil and subpoenaed Jesus while defending himself at his trial.

Prosecutors have said in the past they believe Panetti is feigning his mental illness.

Gov. Perry, a potential 2016 presidential contender, faced pressure from the right to intervene in the case.

Twenty leading conservatives sent the governor a letter on Monday, urging him to commute Panetti’s sentence to life in prison if the state’s parole board recommended it.

“As conservatives, we must be on guard that such an extraordinary government sanction not be used against a person who is mentally incapable of rational thought,” read the letter from the group, which includes former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R). 

“It would be immoral for the government to take this man’s life,” they added.