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Indiana Not Appealing Case Of Mentally Ill Death Row Inmate

Michael Dean Overstreet was sentenced to death in 2000 for the 1997 rape and murder of Franklin College student Kelly Eckart.

The Indiana Attorney General is not appealing a court’s ruling that a man on death row is not mentally competent to be executed.

Michael Dean Overstreet was sentenced to death in 2000 for the 1997 rape and murder of Franklin College student Kelly Eckart.

But a Saint Joseph County Superior Court judge ruled last month that Overstreet’s mental state had devolved to the point that he would not understand what would be happening to him if he were put to death.

According to an earlier U.S. Supreme Court case, convicted offenders must be mentally competent before they can be executed.

Overstreet will remain on death row, however. The death sentence could still be carried out if and when Overstreet’s mental competency is restored.

“The court’s decision does not overturn the conviction nor does it set aside the sentence,” Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller clarified in a statement. “My decision was based on the conclusion that Judge Miller’s determination of incompetency was done in a manner as set out by the United States Supreme Court that did not provide adequate grounds for appeal.”

Zoeller called Overstreet’s crime “horrific” and said the death sentence handed down in 2000 was appropriate.

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