Lawyers for Jack Gordon Greene, a convicted killer whose execution is set for Nov. 9, presented a clemency petition to the Arkansas Parole Board saying that Greene is mentally incompetent to be executed.
The parole board will make a ruling within 72 hours.
Greene — who had waded paper in each ear and at least one nostril — said that the lawyers were part of a vast conspiracy to make him out “to be a total idiot and a retard.”
“I want to object verbally to everything this attorney is saying,” Greene told the board during a hearing at the Varner Unit in Grady.
John Williams, Greene’s attorney, said this delusional thinking was part of a history of mental illness that was exacerbated by childhood traumas and that has grown worse after thirteen years in 23-hour-a-day solitary confinement on Arkansas’s death row.
The defense team showed a video describing childhood traumas including living in a chicken coop growing up, a family with a history of mental illness and attending a reform school notorious for sexual and physical assault of its students.
“Mr. Greene does not comprehend that his execution will be imposed as the final judgment of a court,” Williams wrote in the petition. His lawyers have filed a separate complaint in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County to halt his execution based on similar grounds. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a prisoner must be competent to be executed.
Greene, however, presented his own petition for clemency, alleging that his lawyers and the Department of Correction have been part of a plan to deny him medical care and keep his case from properly being heard.
“I have literally been tortured,” he said, in reference to the slamming of a trap door on his cell which, Greene claims, resulted in concussion “inflicted through the noise” that caused his brain to swell and his spinal cord to deteriorate.
Greene passed a bunched up mass of paper towels and tape to the parole board that he jams into his door to stop the noise that he says “makes his brain swell.”
Dr. Dale Watson, a psychiatrist brought by the defense team, told the parole board that “the slamming of a door does not cause a concussion.” Instead, he found in observation on multiple occasions Greene had had “front lobe dysfunction” and “fixed delusions” that caused him to obsesses on certain things.
“I believe him to be psychotic,” Watson said.
Watson has never been able to do a full evaluation because Greene believes he is part of the conspiracy against him.
Lawyers said that this mental illness — and its manifestations as delusions that lawyers are trying to help harm him — hurt their ability to create a case.
“[The mental illness] interferes with our ability to represent him,” Scott Braden, one of Greene’s lawyers said. Lawyers say they have tried to have more extensive testing to show Greene is mentally incompetent, but he will not allow doctors to speak with him.
“All this is just a cover-up,” Greene told the parole board. “They get these nut doctors to twist it around.”
Greene, while making his case did not sit at the fold-out table across from the parole board,
“I have to contort myself like this,” Greene told the board. “I have to do this.”
Despite his poor health, Greene still told that he is “totally competent to be executed” and took “responsibility for killing [Sidney] Burnett.”
“What I did was horrible,” Greene said.
The crime was described in the afternoon by David Gibbons, the prosecuting attorney who convicted Greene. He said that the “case presents the worst of the worst.”
He described how Greene “terrorized that 69-year-old man,” by handcuffing Burnett, binding him to a chair with filament tape, stabbing him, and beating him with a full can of hominy so hard it detented the can.
Gibbons emphasized that through all of this “Burnett was alive.”
“I can tell you it took awhile,” Gibbons said. “[He] felt every bit of that.”
After this, Greene shot Burnett with a pistol in the head.
Gibbons said he could not think of a “crime [that is] less deserving of executive clemency.”
“He is an actor, he performs,” she said.
She wanted to see the death sentence stand.
“It is time to reap what he has sowed,” she said.
Other of Burnett’s children held similar sentiments, and said that until Greene was executed there could not be “peace” or “closure.”
“Put this dog to sleep,” said Irene Burton, another of Burnett’s daughters. She said that her mother, Edna Burnett, 89, would not be able to “find peace” until “he is put down.”
Burton says her mother Edna Burnett still fears Greene will escape and harm her.
“He needs to be dead so this never happens again,” Burton told the parole board, reading from a statement Edna Burnett prepared.