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Condemned inmate says government, military control his mind

BYLINE: By BOBBY ROSS JR., Associated Press Writer

SECTION: State and Regional

LENGTH: 851 words

DATELINE: NASHVILLE, Tenn.

Less than a week away from his scheduled execution, former Texas drifter Paul Dennis Reid says he’s ready to die for seven murders at fast-food restaurants that terrorized two Tennessee cities in 1997.

But Reid, 45, still maintains his innocence. He says he dropped his appeals, clearing the way for his death by lethal injection Tuesday, “not because I can’t win these cases or not because I am the killer or the executioner or that I’ve had any involvement in it.”

Rather, he blamed a government and military conspiracy to use him as “an experimental lab rat.” The former Oklahoma City resident said he did not know the reason for the conspiracy.

“I deal with it on a daily basis,” Reid told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution.

Reid suggested scientific technology is used to control his mind and body.

“At times they have the ears ringing at a low level. At times they have the ears ringing at a high-pitched level. They have the scientific technology where they can cause parts of your body to itch, to move – to flicker,” he said.

Reid, dressed in a white prison jumpsuit and restrained by handcuffs, said the conspiracy started in 1985 while he was serving time in Texas for armed robberies. He said the government and military enlisted fellow inmates and his own family members to perform psychological tests on him.

“Well, naturally, out of 800 inmates, some of the convicts came back and conveyed this to me,” Reid said.

It wasn’t the first time Reid alleged such a conspiracy.

In a taped interview with Nashville police after his arrest in June 1997, he weaved a similar tale of government surveillance. In that interview, he described objects appearing in closed rooms and government agents watching him, telling people to alter their activities around him in a giant “psychological game.”

“I mean every verbal word, sneeze, cough, movement is under a monitoring device more sophisticated and complex than I can describe,” he said then.

Reid grew up in Houston, the son of an often absent alcoholic father and a mother who abandoned him. He spent much of the 1980s in the Texas prison system.

Once paroled, he worked as a baker in Oklahoma City. He said Wednesday that the government invited him to a meeting at the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building on the morning of the April 19, 1995, bombing – but he overslept.

Later, he headed to Nashville to pursue a country music career, where he adopted the stage name Justin Parks.

“Much to my dismay, I was not aware that a million and one were in line trying to make it in country music when I arrived,” he said. “I was not aware how tough and difficult and strenuous and arduous it would be to try to make it in country music.”

To make money, he worked as a dishwasher at a Shoney’s restaurant, where on Feb. 15, 1997, he was fired for losing his temper and throwing a plate that hit another employee.

The next day, he started killing.

Steve Hampton, 25, and Sarah Jackson, 16, were found slain “execution style” at a Captain D’s restaurant in Nashville near the Shoney’s where Reid worked on Feb. 16.

A month later, Ronald Santiago, 27; Robert A. Sewell Jr., 23; and Andrea Brown, 17, were shot and killed in a midnight robbery at a McDonald’s restaurant a few miles away from the Captain D’s. Another employee, Jose Alfredo Ramirez Gonzalez, was stabbed 17 times, but survived.

In April, Angela Holmes, 21, and Michelle Mace, 16, were kidnapped in a robbery at a Baskin-Robbins ice cream store in Clarksville, 50 miles north of Nashville. Their throats were slashed and their bodies were dumped at Dunbar Cave State Natural Area.

Reid was arrested in June and linked to the murders after going to the home of the Shoney’s manager who fired him and attempting to kidnap and kill him.

He was convicted in three separate trials – one for each group of murders – and received seven death sentences.

Over Reid’s objections, his attorneys have tried to stop his execution – only the second in Tennessee since 1960, if it happens. They contend he is mentally ill and can’t comprehend the gravity of his decision.

But lengthy competency hearings during his trials failed to substantiate claims of mental illness, the Tennessee Supreme Court said Tuesday in denying a stay of execution.

“Mr. Reid is a responsible person,” Chief Justice Frank F. Drowota III wrote for the majority. “Even at this late hour he may initiate post-conviction proceedings if he chooses.”

Reid said he’s “totally capable of making a sound, rational decision” and absolutely won’t seek an 11th-hour appeal.

“I’ll lay down … get strapped to the gurney, be rolled into the execution chamber and have the lethal injection syringes inserted into my arm,” he said, adding that death doesn’t worry him because “I haven’t had a life since 1985.”

Asked if he would say anything to the victims’ relatives at the execution, he replied, “I plan to say something in the essence of, ‘If I have violated any of you, if I have offended any of you, then please forgive me.”‘

April 29, 2003, Tuesday, BC cycle

Reid resumes appeals of death sentence after ‘sign from God’

BYLINE: By BOBBY ROSS JR., Associated Press Writer

SECTION: State and Regional

LENGTH: 957 words

DATELINE: NASHVILLE, Tenn.

After dropping his appeals last month, seven-time convicted murderer Paul Dennis Reid vowed not to change his mind at the last minute.

“I adamantly will not pick up my appeals,” Reid, 45, told The Associated Press last week. “I’m not playing games with the state of Tennessee. I’m not playing games with Jesus Christ.

“I’ll lay down on that gurney, get strapped on the gurney, be rolled into the execution chamber and have the lethal injection syringes inserted into my arm.”

But less than three hours from his scheduled execution Tuesday morning, Reid signed paperwork to resume his appeals – a legal process that could add years to his life.

The Rev. Joe Ingle, a death penalty opponent who counsels condemned inmates, said Reid believed God intervened in his life.

Reid was scheduled to die by lethal injection at 1 a.m. But late Monday, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered a stay of execution.

The state attorney general’s office immediately sought a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn that stay so Tennessee could proceed with its second execution in 43 years.

But Reid thwarted that effort by signing a petition for post-conviction relief, restarting his appeals.

Ingle said he was with Reid at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution when they heard that the 6th Circuit had issued a stay. A television was on near the cell where Reid was on death watch, and the station carried the news.

“He took that as a sign from God,” Ingle said.

In visits with relatives and Ingle, Reid had maintained that he wanted to give up his appeals and die, the minister said.

“Our whole message was, ‘We understand that, Paul, but if God is saying something to you and works through some agency, be it the court or the governor or whatever to stop it, then you have to see that as God’s will,”‘ Ingle said. “And he understood that.”

Ingle said he and Reid had just finished communion when they received the news of the stay.

“He was joyous,” Ingle said.

Seventeen immediate family members of Reid’s victims had planned to witness the execution and were gathered at an undisclosed location awaiting a bus ride to the prison when the execution was called off.

Jerry Jackson, father of Sarah Jackson, 16, one of Reid’s first victims, declined to comment when contacted at home late Monday. Relatives of other victims could not be reached.

Reid received seven death sentences for a string of murders at fast-food restaurants in Nashville and Clarksville in 1997. He dropped his appeals on two of his death sentences last month, clearing the way for his execution.

His sister, Janet Kirkpatrick of Hungerford, Texas, filed a motion last week seeking to resume the appeals on his behalf because he is mentally ill, and the 6th Circuit ruled in her favor.

Earlier Monday, Reid testified at a federal hearing that the U.S. military uses technology to make his ears ring and control his behavior. He said he understood that by dropping his appeals he would be executed.

U.S. District Court Judge Todd Campbell found that Reid was mentally ill but understood the consequences of his actions.

Kirkpatrick appealed to the 6th Circuit Court in Cincinnati, and a three-judge panel ruled that a mental competency hearing was needed. The justices halted the execution and sent the case back to Campbell’s court.

The hearing is now moot since Reid has resumed his appeals.

Correction Department spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said Reid was taken off death watch late Monday and returned to his cell on death row.

An inmate on death watch is placed in a special cell just outside the death chamber in the hours leading up to an execution.

Reid did receive his “last meal” Monday night and apparently told Correction Commissioner Quenton White at that time that he wanted the execution carried out.

“If I’m going to wake up tomorrow in prison, then I don’t want to live,” Reid told White, Johnson said.

During his testimony in Campbell’s court Monday, Reid repeatedly told the judge he was not mentally ill. Several times he mentioned the victims, and once called all seven by name.

“Your honor, there are seven innocent people who have lost their lives, and I believe this court and all the courts should focus their attention on the surviving families,” Reid said. “Three juries in the Bible Belt state of Tennessee have already decided I am guilty. I understand the ramifications and I accept the verdict.”

Campbell also heard testimony from a psychologist who recently examined Reid and believed he was incapable of making a decision about his appeals; and Reid’s brother-in-law, who said Reid has claimed since the mid-1980s that the government controls his mind.

Reid, a Texas drifter who moved to Nashville to attempt a country music career, was fired as a dishwasher from a Shoney’s restaurant on Feb. 15, 1997, for losing his temper and throwing a plate that hit another employee.

The next day, Jackson and Steve Hampton, 25, were slain execution-style at a Captain D’s restaurant not far from the Shoney’s.

In March 1997, Ronald Santiago, 27; Robert A. Sewell Jr., 23; and Andrea Brown, 17, were shot and killed in a midnight robbery at a McDonald’s a few miles from the Captain D’s.

A month later, Angela Holmes, 21, and Michelle Mace, 16, were kidnapped in a robbery at a Baskin-Robbins ice cream store in Clarksville, about 50 miles northwest of Nashville. Their throats were slashed and their bodies were dumped at Dunbar Cave State Natural Area.

Reid was arrested in June 1997 and linked to the murders after attempting to kidnap and kill the Shoney’s manager who fired him. He was convicted and condemned in three separate trials – one for each set of murders.

April 29, 2003, Tuesday, BC cycle

Reid resumes appeals, execution delayed

BYLINE: By BOBBY ROSS JR., Associated Press Writer

SECTION: State and Regional

LENGTH: 861 words

DATELINE: NASHVILLE, Tenn.

Just hours from his scheduled execution, seven-time convicted murderer Paul Dennis Reid got a reprieve from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and decided to resume his appeals.

Reid, 45, was set to die by lethal injection at 1 a.m. Tuesday and become the second Tennessee inmate executed in 43 years.

The Texas drifter received seven death sentences for a string of murders at fast-food restaurants in Nashville and Clarksville in 1997. He dropped his appeals on two of his death sentences last month, clearing the way for his execution.

His sister, Janet Kirkpatrick of Hungerford, Texas, filed a motion last week seeking to resume the appeals on his behalf because he is mentally ill, and the 6th Circuit ruled in her favor.

The Rev. Joe Ingle, a death penalty opponent who counsels condemned inmates, said he had just finished giving Reid communion when they received the news that Reid’s life had been spared.

“He took that as a sign from God,” Ingle said outside Riverbend Maximum Security Institution. ” … He was joyous.”

Soon after, Reid signed a post-conviction petition seeking to resume his appeals. That action indefinitely postpones his execution.

Reid’s two sisters and their husbands visited him earlier in the day, and Ingle said they urged Reid to see any delay of his execution as “God’s will.”

“And he understood that,” Ingle said.

Last week, Reid vowed in an interview with The Associated Press not to resume his appeals.

“I adamantly will not pick up my appeals,” Reid said then. “I’m not playing games with the state of Tennessee. I’m not playing games with Jesus Christ.

“I’ll lay down on that gurney, get strapped on the gurney, be rolled into the execution chamber and have the lethal injection syringes inserted into my arm.”

Seventeen immediate family members of Reid’s victims had planned to witness the execution and were gathered at an undisclosed location awaiting a bus ride to the prison when Reid changed his mind about his appeals.

Jerry Jackson, father of Sarah Jackson, 16, one of Reid’s first victims, declined to comment when contacted at home late Monday. Other victims could not be immediately reached.

Earlier Monday, Reid testified at a federal hearing that the U.S. military uses technology to make his ears ring and control his behavior. He said he understood that by dropping his appeals he would be executed.

U.S. District Court Judge Todd Campbell found that Reid was mentally ill but understood the consequences of his actions.

Kirkpatrick appealed to the 6th Circuit Court in Cincinnati, and a three-judge panel ruled that a mental competency hearing was needed. The justices halted the execution and sent the case back to Campbell’s court.

Since Reid decided to resume his appeals, the hearing is a moot point in relation to Kirkpatrick’s motion.

Correction Department spokeswoman Jennifer Johnson said Reid was taken off death watch late Monday and returned to his cell on death row.

An inmate on death watch is placed in a special cell just outside the death chamber in the hours leading up to an execution.

Reid did receive his “last meal” Monday night and apparently told Correction Commissioner Quenton White at that time that he wanted the execution carried out.

“If I’m going to wake up tomorrow in prison, then I don’t want to live,” Reid told White, Johnson said.

During his testimony in Campbell’s court, Reid repeatedly told the judge he was not mentally ill. Several times he mentioned the victims, and once called all seven by name.

“Your honor, there are seven innocent people who have lost their lives, and I believe this court and all the courts should focus their attention on the surviving families,” Reid said. “Three juries in the Bible Belt state of Tennessee have already decided I am guilty. I understand the ramifications and I accept the verdict.”

Campbell also heard testimony from a psychologist who recently examined Reid and believed he was incapable of making a decision about his appeals; and Reid’s brother-in-law, who said Reid has claimed since the mid-1980s that the government controls his mind.

Reid, a Texas drifter who moved to Nashville to attempt a country music career, was fired as a dishwasher from a Shoney’s restaurant on Feb. 15, 1997, for losing his temper and throwing a plate that hit another employee.

The next day, Jackson and Steve Hampton, 25, were slain execution-style at a Captain D’s restaurant not far from the Shoney’s.

In March 1997, Ronald Santiago, 27; Robert A. Sewell Jr., 23; and Andrea Brown, 17, were shot and killed in a midnight robbery at a McDonald’s a few miles from the Captain D’s.

A month later, Angela Holmes, 21, and Michelle Mace, 16, were kidnapped in a robbery at a Baskin-Robbins ice cream store in Clarksville, about 50 miles northwest of Nashville. Their throats were slashed and their bodies were dumped at Dunbar Cave State Natural Area.

Reid was arrested in June 1997 and linked to the murders after attempting to kidnap and kill the Shoney’s manager who fired him. He was convicted and condemned in three separate trials – one for each set of murders.

April 29, 2003, Tuesday, BC cycle

Victim’s mother: Reid ‘jerked us around’ by resuming appeals

BYLINE: By BOBBY ROSS JR., Associated Press Writer

SECTION: State and Regional

LENGTH: 704 words

DATELINE: NASHVILLE, Tenn.

Gina Jackson woke up angry and disappointed Tuesday, the morning after the man convicted of killing her daughter abruptly changed his mind and resumed appealing his death sentence.

“I feel like Paul Reid jerked us around,” said Jackson, whose daughter, Sarah, 16, was slain along with her manager, Steve Hampton, 25, at a Captain D’s restaurant in Nashville six years ago.

“I hate the thought that maybe I played a part in his ploy.”

Jerry and Gina Jackson, along with Sarah’s brothers, Wayne and Preston, were among 17 relatives of seven victims who had planned to witness Reid being put to death early Tuesday.

Reid had cleared the way for his execution by dropping his appeals in the Captain D’s case last month and had vowed he wouldn’t try to stop it.

But less than three hours before Tuesday’s scheduled lethal injection, Reid, 45, signed paperwork to resume his appeals – a process that could add years to his life.

Reid changed his mind after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati halted his execution based on a petition from his sister, who asked to pursue his appeals because he is mentally ill.

The Rev. Joe Ingle, a death penalty opponent who counsels condemned inmates, said that before the stay was granted, he laid his hands on Reid’s head and kneeled to pray for “the power of God” to enter him.

“He’s a disgrace to God’s grace,” Jackson said of the United Church of Christ minister. “Before praying for God’s power to come in, you first need to start with confession and repentance and asking for God’s forgiveness.”

In response, Ingle said Tuesday that a person about to be executed is a child of God who deserves God’s blessings and forgiveness, “no matter what he’s done.”

“This is an exceedingly complicated situation because … there are profound questions about Paul’s mental illness,” Ingle said.

During a Monday hearing on his sister’s petition, Reid testified that the U.S. military uses technology to make his ears ring and control his behavior. He said he understood that by dropping his appeals he would be executed.

U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell found Reid mentally ill but competent to drop his appeals. A few hours later, a three-judge appeals court panel overruled Campbell by stopping the execution and ordering a mental compentency hearing.

Ingle was with Reid at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution when they heard of the stay. Reid “took that as a sign from God” and decided to pick up the appeals he had abandoned, Ingle said.

The families do not see the hand of God.

“If he had waited another hour and a half, the U.S. Supreme Court would have overturned it,” Jackson said, referring to the state’s petition to the high court to allow the execution to proceed.

Reid has never admitted the crimes for which he received seven death sentences: a string of execution-style slayings at fast-food restaurants in Nashville and Clarksville in 1997.

At the hearing Monday, Reid mentioned the victims several times – once calling all seven by name.

“Your honor, there are seven innocent people who have lost their lives, and I believe this court and all the courts should focus their attention on the surviving families,” Reid said. “Three juries in the Bible Belt state of Tennessee have already decided I am guilty. I understand the ramifications and I accept the verdict.”

As the scheduled execution drew closer Monday night, the victims’ relatives began to believe that Reid indeed would go through with it.

“The relieving part is that he won’t be able to haunt us anymore,” said Connie Black, whose 16-year-old daughter, Michelle Mace, 16, was killed in the Baskin-Robbins robbery.

But hopes of any relief were dashed when Reid reversed course.

“I am very disappointed,” Gina Jackson said Tuesday. “I thought this morning, we’d wake up and it’d be behind us.”

Death penalty opponents said they felt for the victims’ relatives.

“We are extremely angry that the death penalty system put the victims’ families through an emotional rollercoaster,” said Randy Tatel, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition to Abolish State Killing. “This is clear evidence the death penalty system is an anti-victim system.”

April 28, 2003, Monday, BC cycle

As seven-time killer faces execution, one victim’s parents reflect on life cut short

BYLINE: By BOBBY ROSS JR., Associated Press Writer

SECTION: State and Regional

LENGTH: 869 words

DATELINE: NASHVILLE, Tenn.

On the kitchen table, there’s a Captain D’s ballcap, covered with handwritten messages from friends.

“In loving memory of Sarah,” one former co-worker wrote.

“We all love ya!” proclaimed another.

Keepsakes from the life of Sarah Jackson – murdered three weeks shy of her 17th birthday – decorate her family’s living room wall. There’s her birth certificate, her Social Security card, her driver’s license and a tassel from the high school graduation she never got to attend.

As Tennessee prepares to carry out its second execution in 43 years, attention is focused on her killer, Paul Dennis Reid – a former Texas drifter who received seven death sentences in a string of murders at fast-food restaurants in 1997.

Reid, 45, faces death by lethal injection early Tuesday. He dropped his appeals last month, clearing the way for his execution at Riverbend Maximum Security Institution. He will appear in federal court Monday so a judge can make sure he understands his decision.

Sarah’s mother, Gina Jackson, says she will witness the execution along with the families of Reid’s other victims, including Sarah’s manager, Steve Hampton, 25, to give them a voice.

“I feel like Sarah and Steve and five other victims are pretty much forgotten right now,” she said.

For many, the terror that drew national attention six years ago has faded from memory. But the horror of a Sunday morning in February 1997 never strays far from Jerry and Gina Jackson.

“You don’t get through it,” said Jerry Jackson, the letters on his gray “Tennessee Crime Victims’ Rights Week” T-shirt frayed from frequent washing.

“I mean, she was at work. She was being a normal teenager. She didn’t deserve to come across paths with this guy.”

Sarah normally attended church, but that Sunday, she agreed to help Hampton open the Captain D’s where she worked part time.

Reid – a former Texas parolee who moved to Nashville to pursue a country music career – had just lost his job as a dishwasher at a nearby Shoney’s restaurant. He was fired that Saturday for losing his temper and throwing a plate that hit another employee.

A friend later testified that Reid had discussed robbing fast-food restaurants in the middle of the night, when there would be no witnesses but plenty of cash.

An area director of Captain D’s spoke with Hampton by telephone about 8:30 a.m. But an employee who arrived for work an hour later found the doors locked and got no answer when he tried to call.

The killer somehow forced or talked his way into the restaurant, where he took the two into a back room cooler.

He shot Hampton in the head. He then shot Sarah in the head. As he stopped to reload his gun, Sarah, still wearing the gloves she had used to prepare cole slaw, struggled to pull herself up off the floor. Before she could get far, the robber shot her again in the head, killing her.

Reid still maintains his innocence, casting himself as the victim of a military conspiracy that he suggests uses scientific technology to make his ears ring and his body parts flicker.

He didn’t drop his appeals because he’s guilty but because the government has tormented him to the point of wanting to die, he told The Associated Press in an interview Wednesday.

Amid such bizarre claims, Sarah’s parents grapple with questions that may never be answered.

“Why?” Jerry Jackson said. “I mean, they didn’t resist him. They cooperated with him.”

But after contemplating a moment, he added, “Really, deep down in my heart, I know there was no sense in it.”

A month after his daughter died, Ronald Santiago, 27; Robert A. Sewell Jr., 23; and Andrea Brown, 17, were shot and killed in a midnight robbery at a McDonald’s restaurant a few miles away from the Captain D’s. Another employee, Jose Alfredo Ramirez Gonzalez, was stabbed 17 times but survived.

The next month, Angela Holmes, 21, and Michelle Mace, 16, were kidnapped in a robbery at a Baskin-Robbins ice cream store in Clarksville, 50 miles north of Nashville. Their throats were slashed and their bodies were dumped at Dunbar Cave State Natural Area.

Reid was eventually arrested after going to the home of the Shoney’s manager who fired him and attempting to kidnap and kill him.

He was convicted and condemned in three separate trials – one for each group of murders. His scheduled execution Tuesday is for the murders of Jackson and Hampton.

For the victims’ relatives, the pending execution has “dredged up everything that’s gone on,” said Hampton’s widow, Deanna.

“Nothing that’s done to him is going to change anything,” said Hampton, who is raising the couple’s three young children on her own. “It’s just hard to explain. It gives a little closure to it.”

Like the Jacksons, Hampton plans to witness the execution. None of them expects it will make them feel better.

If Sarah were alive, she’d be 23 now. She might have graduated from college. “I might have a grandchild,” her mom said.

Seeing Reid die won’t take away those “what ifs,” she said.

“I know Sarah was saved and I know where she’s at and I know I’m going to see her again,” Gina Jackson said. “That’s my consolation. When things get real bad, that’s what I try to remember.”

GRAPHIC: AP Photos TNJR601 and TNMH101-104

Copyright 2003 Associated Press

The Associated Press State & Local Wire

April 27, 2003, Sunday, BC cycle

‘Voluntary execution’: Is death the worst punishment?

BYLINE: By BOBBY ROSS JR., Associated Press Writer

SECTION: State and Regional

LENGTH: 882 words

DATELINE: NASHVILLE, Tenn.

Condemned inmate Paul Dennis Reid’s reason for dropping his death-row appeals may be more bizarre than most.

Reid, 45, who received seven death sentences in a string of murders at fast-food restaurants in 1997, claims the government has used advanced scientific technology to make his ears ring and his body parts flicker – tormenting him to the point of wanting to die.

But the Tennessee inmate, who faces death by lethal injection early Tuesday, is far from alone in choosing what has been dubbed “voluntary execution.”

Since the U.S. Supreme Court reinstated capital punishment in 1976, nearly 100 inmates – from Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh to Florida serial killer Aileen Wuornos – have picked the death chamber over prolonged legal maneuvering, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Experts cite a variety of motivations, from the strain of prison life and a desire to exert control to mental illness.

“I think these people who are giving up are saying, ‘Life like this is intolerable and I’d rather be executed,”‘ said Richard Dieter, executive director of the Washington-based Death Penalty Information Center, which frequently criticizes how capital punishment is applied.

“For some of them, there are mental illness problems,” Dieter said. “For some of them, it’s a deliberate choice. It was never intended that people spend 10 or 20 years on death row, then be executed. That’s like an extra punishment.”

Welsh White, a University of Pittsburgh law professor who has represented death-row inmates, agreed that prison conditions are a factor.

“Some defendants would rationally conclude that they would rather die than live in prison,” White said.

But Dianne Clements, executive director of Justice for All, a Houston-based victims’ rights organization, chuckles at the notion that life in prison would be a worse punishment than dying.

“Isn’t it kind of silly?” Clements said. “The term ‘volunteers’ has been coined by those who oppose the death penalty, in some effort to paint a picture that execution is better than life on death row. Well, anyone who is in a position to be executed did not volunteer to be there.”

About 11 percent of inmates executed since 1977 – 97 out of 848 total – have requested early executions, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

In fact, the first inmate executed after the 1976 high court ruling was a volunteer, convicted murderer Gary Gilmore, 36, who was shot by a firing squad at Utah State Prison on Jan. 17, 1977.

While a quest for martyrdom apparently motivated McVeigh to seek his 2001 execution, Wuornos – a hitchhiking prostitute who killed at least six men along Florida’s highways – said in a letter that she agreed with her punishment because “I’m one who seriously hates human life and would kill again.”

Known as “The Damsel of Death,” Wuornos was executed last October despite questions about her mental competency.

Joan Cartwright, a San Francisco clinical psychologist who has conducted testing of death-row inmates, said a combination of factors contribute to prisoners forgoing appeals.

“Of course, there’s the depression,” Cartwright said. “And they’re in a very macho environment, and proceeding with an execution would be seen in that light.

“But I think the primary thing psychologically is that it is a way for that man to take control of his life. It’s a way for him to make that decision to do with his life.”

Even when death-row inmates ask to drop their appeals, the legal process usually doesn’t end – at least not immediately.

Attorneys and death-penalty opponents typically fight to save the life of the condemned, most often arguing – as Wuornos’ attorneys did – that the inmate lacks the mental competency to make that decision.

That’s the case in Nashville where Reid’s sister, Janet Kirkpatrick of Hungerford, Texas, filed a motion in federal court Friday claiming her brother is “gravely ill … and not acting rationally.”

U.S. District Judge Todd Campbell has ordered Reid to appear before him Monday – 17 hours before his scheduled education – to make sure he understands what dropping his appeals means.

In a 4-1 ruling last week, the Tennessee Supreme Court dismissed a similar motion by Reid’s attorneys. The majority said lengthy competency hearings at the trial court level had failed to substantiate claims of mental illness.

Reid, a former Texas parolee who moved to Nashville to pursue a country music career, maintains his innocence but says the government has used mind control and technology to torment him since 1985.

A self-described Christian, he says he’s ready for the afterlife.

“I’ve leaned on Jesus Christ for the last 19 years,” Reid said last week in an interview with The Associated Press. “He’s carried me through this nightmare ordeal.

“I believe that when I die, my soul – my spirit – will ascend up to heaven, that I’ll face judgment day, that I’ll enter the pearly gates of heaven … and walk the streets of gold.”

Associated Press researcher Julie Reed contributed to this report.

On the Net:

Death Penalty Information Center: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org

Justice for All: http://www.jfa.net

Paul Dennis Reid federal court filings: http://www.tnmd.uscourts.gov/reid.html

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