Skip to main content

Are you a legal professional? Visit our professional site

Search for legal issues
For help near (city, ZIP code or county)
Please enter a legal issue and/or a location

Court Rejects Mass Killer John Ferguson's Stay of Execution

Article Placeholder Image
By Kelly Cheung on May 21, 2013 3:56 PM

Death Row inmate, John Errol Ferguson, one of Miami's most notorious mass murderers lost his appeal this Tuesday. Ferguson is scheduled to be put to death by lethal injection as early as Tuesday evening.

Ferguson's attorney, Chris Handman, represented him in his appeal from the Florida Supreme Court decision. Handman argued that capital punishment by lethal injection to a schizophrenic is "cruel and unusual punishment." The Florida Supreme Court rejected Ferguson's arguments of incompetency.

Then, Ferguson took his claim to the appellate courts, only to be rejected again by the Eleventh Circuit.

The self-proclaimed "Prince of God" suffers from schizophrenia. Handman argues that he is not competent enough to be executed under the Panetti decision. The U.S. Supreme Court held in Panetti that a person can not be put to death if they do not understand why they are to be executed.

Unfortunately, the 11th Circuit held that "Ferguson fails to explain how the Florida Supreme Court unreasonably applied clearly established federal law when it found that Ferguson is competent to be executed."

Handman further argued that Ferguson man does not understand why he is in prison. He argued that he has no rational understanding of the effect or reason behind his execution. Arguments state Ferguson believes he is the immortal Prince of God and believes he is incarcerated due to a Communist plot.

The Eleventh Circuit Court does not agree. They find that Ferguson does believe, despite his mental illness, that he is going to die from being executed and that he killed eight people. He also believes that there is life after death -- much like many other religious people in the world.

The self-proclaimed Prince of God was convicted of six South Florida murders in July of 1977 during a home-invasion robbery, reports The Miami-Herald. He also murdered two teens in 1978 and was convicted of attempted murder in another robbery of a couple at lover's lane. He was never convicted, but was also suspected of robbing and killing an elderly couple at a Miami hotel.

It looks like if the U.S. Supreme Court does not take action as Handman has requested, the Florida Department of Corrections will continue as planned in executing Ferguson.

Related Resources:

Find a Lawyer

More Options