AG’s office says court shouldn’t stop execution

Published 2:31 pm Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Mississippi attorney general’s office argued in a court filing Wednesday that an inmate’s recent request for mental health testing is a tactic to delay his execution, scheduled for Tuesday.

Gary Carl Simmons, who had worked as a grocery store butcher, was convicted of killing a man who was shot and dismembered in Pascagoula in 1996.

Simmons’ attorneys have asked the Mississippi Supreme Court to stay his execution for two weeks because they say more time is needed for two mental health evaluations and an appeal based on their results.

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On June 5, the court set the execution date for Simmons, but granted his requests for evaluations by a forensic psychologist and a neuropsychologist. The lawyers filed another motion Monday that says there isn’t enough time before the execution for evaluations and an appeal based on the results, “if warranted.”

The Mississippi attorney general’s office responded Wednesday in a court filing that said the request for mental evaluations is a delay tactic and the court should rescind its order and deny a stay of execution.

Simmons’ lawyers argued that he suffers from a mental illness and that he was abused as a child. If evaluations support those claims, lawyers want the court to order Simmons resentenced, giving him a chance to avoid execution.

The attorney general’s office filing said Simmons’ “sanity is not in question” and that if he’s allowed to get the evaluations then other death row inmates will ask for the same type tests to delay their executions.

In a response filed Wednesday, Simmons’ attorneys argued that his due process rights would be violated if there’s not sufficient time for the evaluations.

Simmons, now 49, was convicted of killing Jeffrey Wolfe in August 1996.

Wolfe had gone to Simmons home to collect a drug debt. Timothy Milano, Simmons’ co-defendant and the person authorities said shot Wolfe, was convicted on the same charges and sentenced to life in prison.

Police said Simmons and Milano kidnapped Wolfe and his female friend and later assaulted the woman and locked her in a box. Police said they later found parts of Wolfe’s body at Simmons’ house, in the yard and in a nearby bayou. The woman was not killed.