COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A man scheduled to die this week for shooting his estranged wife and brother-in-law in a courthouse basement in 1992 is so mentally ill he believes the CIA is orchestrating his execution, his attorneys said Monday as they asked the Ohio Supreme Court for a delay.
Abdul Awkal's mental health has been the subject of court hearings for years, and a Cuyahoga County judge ruled Monday that there was enough evidence that Awkal was insane to justify a hearing about his competency.
"In 2001, Mr. Awkal wrote the CIA and offered his assistance in the war on terrorism," his attorneys said in Monday's filing. "Since then, he has been writing CIA directors, Presidents Bush and Obama, and news media to explain his plans for Mideast foreign affairs."
The attorneys included a report by California psychiatrist Pablo Stewart, who reviewed Awkal's case history and interviewed him on death row in Chillicothe on May 25.
Stewart said the 53-year-old Awkal doesn't understand why he is being executed and instead lives in a fantasy world where he believes he is crucial to the nation's Mideast war effort, according to the affidavit.
"Awkal's delusions prevent him from truly understanding that the crimes he committed in 1992 are the reason for his execution," Stewart wrote.
The attorneys say a delay is necessary to conduct a proper court hearing on Awkal's competency before Wednesday's execution.
The state opposes the request, and both Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Parole Board rejected Awkal's request for mercy based on his mental health allegations.
Stewart is an outspoken death penalty opponent with a clear bias in the case, Cuyahoga County prosecutors said in a filing late Monday. A message left with Stewart on Monday wasn't immediately returned.
They also say that Awkal is unlikely to win his argument in court and that a delay at this stage is unnecessary. The request isn't fair to the surviving family members of Awkal's victims, prosecutors added.
Awkal told two other doctors he was going to be executed for his crimes, prosecutors said. "The evidence shows that Awkal is competent to be executed," they said. "He admits committing the murders, he knows he is scheduled to be executed on June 6, 2012."
The parole board voted 8-1 against recommending mercy, with most members concluding that Awkal planned the shooting and that it wasn't the result of a psychotic breakdown.
While he had asserted remorse, "he clearly blames the victims for allegedly creating the circumstances that forced him to kill them," the board said on May 18.
The Cuyahoga County judge's decision isn't enough to stop the execution, and it's likely that Awkal will be moved Tuesday morning to the death house at the Southern Ohio Correctional Facility in Lucasville.
Awkal was sentenced to death for killing his estranged wife, Latife Awkal, and brother-in-law Mahmoud Abdul-Aziz in January 1992 in a room where the Awkals were to take up divorce and custody issues.
In the months before the shooting, Awkal bought a pistol and threated to kill his wife and her family if they didn't dismiss the divorce proceedings. Prosecutors said Awkal also changed his address and wrote his brother a check for most of his assets before heading to court on the day of the shooting.
Andrew Welsh-Huggins can be reached at http://twitter.com/awhcolumbus.Tags: