18 May 2004 – Kelsey Patterson

Kelsey PattersonTo shoot two people for no reason already rings alarm bells. So to strip down to your birthday suit and parade up and down the street after you’ve pulled the trigger, well that just suggests your brain’s a cell short of an amoeba, surely?

OK so Kelsey Patterson said that he stripped off so the police would’ve known instantly that he wasn’t armed, but hey, that’s a bit extreme, when holding your arms up in plain sight would have done.

Crime and punishment

But when that person has killed for no reason on previous occasions, what’s the course of action? Well it was a no-brainer where the trigger-happy Texans were concerned – they decided to execute Patterson, forget that he’d been diagnosed a paranoid schizophrenic and found mentally incompetent with regard to his previous crimes.

Don’t get us wrong, the crimes were horrific and completely senseless. But that’s the whole point: senseless was the important word at play here.

Insane?

The key issue is that Patterson had been diagnosed as mentally ill, rather than insane, the difference being that he supposedly understood the gravity of his crimes and his punishment, so he was ‘fit’ for execution.

Texans circumvented Patterson’s mental ability to take responsibility for his actions by deeming that they could not guarantee he would never be released back into the community. Why, because a life sentence always came with the option to apply for parole.

But paranoid schizophrenia doesn’t quite cut it when you’re considering if a person is in control of his own actions, and, as a result, the sentence generated outrage in the mental health world – opposition like you wouldn’t believe.

Bad medicine

Ultimately it was Patterson who said it better than any of us ever could as he lay strapped to the gurney awaiting his lethal injection, aged 50.

‘No kin, no kin, no kin! I’m not guilty of a charge of capital murder. Give me my rights. I’m acquitted of capital murder.’ When asked if he’d like to give a last statement, he replied ‘Statement to what? Statement to what? I’m not guilty of the charge of capital murder.’

Does it sound like he knew why he was being executed?

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