Ga. inmate's execution delayed after he attempts suicide hours before he is set to die

The Georgia Supreme Court delayed the execution Tuesday of a convicted killer who attempted suicide hours before he was to be put to death by injection.

Brandon Joseph Rhode, 31, tried to slit his wrists and his throat, according to his attorneys who want to halt the execution with a new mental competency challenge.

Rhode's attorney Brian Kammer said the attempted suicide proves Rhode was "incompetent" and executing him violates the Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

"He's utterly terrified and just hopeless," said Kammer. "He was very morose, frightened and subdued. This was a product of him just being in terror, of losing hope altogether."

Georgia prisons officials have rescheduled the execution for Friday.

Rhode was convicted in 2000 of the killings of Steven Moss, 37, his 11-year-old son Bryan and 15-year-old daughter Kristin during a burglary of their Jones County home. His co-conspirator, Daniel Lucas, was also sentenced to death in a separate trial and is on death row.

Suicide attempts on death row are rare, but have happened. In March, Ohio inmate Lawrence Reynolds overdosed on an antidepressant hours before he was to be transferred to the state's death chamber. He recovered in a hospital and was executed a week later.

In Texas, David Long was executed in December 1999 after overdosing on antidepressants authorities believe he hoarded in his death row cell. Long's attorneys sought to postpone the execution, but a judge refused a reprieve, saying that because Long previously was judged competent to be executed, there was a presumption of competency.