A murderer scheduled to die for killing a bus driver won an unwanted stay Saturday from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals until the court can rule on his parents' plea to keep him alive.
The Nevada attorney general's office immediately appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to allow the execution of Thomas Baal this weekend and cancel the stay issued by a three-judge panel based in San Francisco.Baal, a 26-year-old former mental patient, seemed somewhat resigned when advised of the stay, Nevada State Prison spokesman Glen Wharton said. "He reiterated that he wants the execution to go forward."
The circuit court ruled 2-1 that a U.S. District judge in Reno erred by not holding an evidentiary hearing on the parents' claim that Baal has suffered brain damage and tried suicide several times.
The court, ruling about 11 hours before the scheduled execution, scheduled a hearing July 31 in Pasadena, Calif., and ordered prosecution and defense lawyers to submit written briefs.
Doris and Edwin Baal of Mesa, Colo., said their son's long-term mental problems prevented him from making a rational decision about his appeals. Baal insisted he wanted no further appeals. "I just want to go die and be free," he said Thursday.