An attorney for a federal death row inmate is asking a federal judge to halt her client’s execution.
Sixty-seven-year-old Wesley Purkey was sentenced to death in 2003 for kidnapping, raping and murdering a 16-year-old girl in Kansas City.
Purkey’s attorney Rebecca Rebecca Woodman says her client does not understand why he’s being executed due to the onset of dementia.
“What we’re seeking is that the court order that we are entitled to a hearing on our claim, and also to gather the documents that we need in order to have a hearing as soon as possible,” says Woodman.
The 58 page document says executing Purkey would violate the constitution’s 8th amendment that bans cruel and unusual punishment.
The document says Purkey suffered repeated physical and sexual abuse as a child.
“Mr. Purkey has significant memory impairments, grossly deteriorated cognitive function, paranoia, and delusions that render him unable to rationally understand the reason the United States seeks to execute him,” the document states.
Woodman says a psychiatrist examined Purkey multiple times while he was on death row at the U.S. Penitentiary in Terre Haute, IN.
“These long standing mental illnesses, along with brain injuries are now exacerbated by his progressive dementia, which was first diagnosed in 2016,” says Woodman.
Purkey was also convicted of using a claw hammer to murder an 80-year-old woman in 2000.
His December 13th execution has already been stayed by a judge. In that ruling, Judge Tanya S. Chutkan also delayed three other executions so the defense could have time to challenge the method of lethal injected that will be used in the executions.
A 5th inmate scheduled for execution December 11th had his date delayed in a separate case.