Judge Orders Forced Medication for Inmate Before He's Put to Death

A judge who halted an execution because the inmate was mentally ill has agreed to force the man to take anti-psychotic medication so he can be put to death.

The inmate, Steven Kenneth Staley, 43, has refused to take his medication. A jury decided he should be put to death for the killing of a Fort Worth restaurant manager during a botched robbery.

Judge Wayne Salvant issued the forced-medication order Tuesday, while Staley picked at his unruly hair and mumbled nonsensical phrases in the courtroom.

The order, requested by prosecutors, drew a sharp argument from Staley's attorney.

"The whole idea of holding somebody down and injecting them so that we can then say, with a straight face, this person is now competent so we can kill them, I think that smacks of an Orwellian-Soviet-style approach to criminal justice," Jack Strickland told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Prosecutors Chuck Mallin and Jim Gibson told the newspaper they requested the order partly so the jury's sentencing decision could be carried out.

Three days before Staley was scheduled to die in February, Salvant blocked the punishment because psychologists testified the man was incompetent. In 1986, the Supreme Court held the Eighth Amendment's cruel and unusual punishment clause bars states from executing prisoners who aren't aware of the punishment they are about to face and don't understand why they are facing it.