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Georgia to Execute Killer of 3-Year-Old Girl and Mother: The Associated Press reports Nicholas Cody Tate, 31, is scheduled to be executed at 7 p.m. local time in Georgia today. In 2001, Tate and two of his younger brothers purchased ammunition, duct tape, and knives at a sporting goods store before going to the home of Chrissie Williams, where they believed she had a stash of drugs and cash. Tate's brother tried to strangle Williams' 3-year-old daughter, Katelyn, with a telephone cord before using Tate's knife to slit her throat. Tate put a seat cushion over Williams' head, killing her with one shot. The brothers fled to Mississippi, where they kidnapped a 23-year-old woman from a gas station. After releasing her, they kept her car and headed toward Oklahoma before calling their parents and negotiating their surrender to police. Tate was sentenced to death in 2005. His brothers were sentenced to life in prison. In 2009 he said he wanted to waive all future appeals. Update:  The execution has been postponed, Greg Bluestein reports for AP.

CA Supreme Court Rules on Self-Representation for Mentally Disturbed Defendants: Bob Egelko of the San Francisco Chronicle reports the California Supreme Court ruled "gray-area defendants" (those competent to stand trial but who lack the mental health or capacity to represent themselves) can be denied self-representation and be required to accept a lawyer. The ruling upheld the convictions for Andrew D. Johnson, who in June 2007 committed a brutal sexual assault on a bartender, and later that day hit a man at a sandwich shop in the head with a metal chair. A judge withdrew his permission for Johnson to act as his own lawyer, and he was represented by an attorney despite his rejections. The state Supreme Court said "the trial court acted within its discretion in revoking defendant's self-representation status." The opinion is here.

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"Tate appeared to have a change of heart as his execution neared. He agreed late Tuesday to file a habeas appeal, forcing the judge to halt the execution. Prison officials notified the media in Jackson minutes after the stay was filed. Tate's attorneys expect to file more court briefings in the days to come."

How in the world was the judge "forced" to halt the execution? He didn't have to issue the stay. Tate dropped his appeals. He should have been held to that (like any other litigant) and executed. This was appallingly cruel to the victim's family.

He dropped his appeals years ago--to allow him to restart them now would be a miscarriage of justice.

There should not have been a stay.

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