The sister of Scott Panetti, a paranoid schizophrenic set to be executed by the state of Texas on Dec. 3 for the murder of two people, has pleaded with Gov. Rick Perry to commute his sentence to life in prison. Victoria Panetti has said that her brother, who believes he's being executed for preaching the Gospel, does not understand fact from fiction, and started an online petition asking Perry to spare his life.
"Having a brother on death row is like having a terminally ill family member. But there's one big difference: we can't stop a terminal illness, but we can stop Texas from killing a mentally ill man," Victoria Panetti wrote in a letter alongside the Change.org petition.
"I know it's hard to see beyond the fact that Scott took two lives, but he suffers from a severe illness that changed the way his mind works. He doesn't understand fact from fiction. He's still my big brother, the strong and handsome sailor who served in the Navy." more >>
Ferguson officer Darren Wilson is reportedly negotiating his way to leave the force in order to protect his colleagues from further retribution, reports stated on Friday.
"It's fair to say that neither he nor his defense team expect an indictment," Jeff Roorda, business manager for the St. Louis Police Officers' Association, said after meeting with Wilson.
As the town of Ferguson waits for the grand jury's verdict, Michael Brown, the unarmed teen shot by Wilson in August, has been remembered in protests. His father recently released a video online, calling for calm no matter what the grand jury decides. more >>
A Virginia woman has been charged with lying to authorities about her involvement with ISIS and was arrested in an undercover sting operation on Monday.
Heather Elizabeth Coffman, 29, allegedly used social media to show her support for the Islamic State and even offered to help someone in the United States connect with the group in Syria.
According to the FBI, Coffman was in touch with a person interested in joining the group; unbeknownst to her, that someone was a federal official. She explained that she had helped her "husband" travel to Turkey to meet up with ISIS agents who could get him to the front lines in Syria and even outlined the specific details of her plan, but said that she and her husband separated, so he never made the trip. more >>
The attorneys for Scott Panetti, a severely mentally ill man who believes Texas is trying to execute him for preaching the Gospel, have asked the state to stay his execution. Panetti's death sentence, however, is not for preaching the Gospel, but for murdering his parents-in-law in 1992. His planned execution is being opposed by both mental health professionals and over 50 evangelical leaders.
"If his execution date is not withdrawn, he will go to the execution chamber convinced that he's being put to death for preaching the Gospels, not for the murder of his wife's parents, and the retributive goal of capital punishment will not be served," the Texas Defender Service group warned.
A federal appeals court in Washington has upheld the accommodation in President Obama's healthcare law for religious nonprofits to opt out of providing abortifacients and birth control coverage, rejecting the argument that it imposes a substantial burden on their expression of religion.
In a 3-0 decision, judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said that religious nonprofits can "express what they believe and seek what they want" just by writing a letter or filling out a two-page EBSA Form 700 to opt out and allow a third-party to cover the products and services.
"That bit of paperwork is more straight-forward and minimal than many that are staples of nonprofit organizations' compliance with law in the modern administrative state," wrote appeals judge Cornelia Pillard, an Obama-appointee, according to The Associated Press. more >>