LAWYERS FOR A MENTALLY ILL MAN ON DEATH ROW FOR OVER 20 YEARS SAY THE STATE OF TENNESSEE IS MEDICATING HIM TO MAKE HIM COMPETENT TO EXECUTE -- "60 MINUTES" SUNDAY
In a Bizarre Case, Inmate Who Doctors Say is Mentally Ill Could be Executed
The U.S. Supreme Court prohibits the execution of a prisoner who is insane, but Gregory Thompson, a murderer whose lawyers and doctors say is mentally ill, may yet be put to death in a bizarre case that has been going on for over 20 years. Lara Logan's report, including an interview with Thompson, will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, Nov. 11 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Thompson voluntarily takes a cocktail of 10 pills daily, plus two injections a month, and says he would "go lulu" without them. Episodes off the medications include attempting to kill guards he says appeared to be insects and aliens. But even on the medicine, he is delusional, says one of his lawyers, Dana Chavis. "[Medicine] doesn't take away his mental illness. He's always insane...but it hides that insanity," says Chavis.
Logan spoke with him in prison while he was on his medication, asking him if he's aware the medication increases his chances of being executed. "I made a choice years ago that if I were to get to that point, I'd rather be normal than insane," he says, "because it hurts. I'm tired of being mentally ill...so if they want to kill me at the end, then they kill me at the end." Asked what would happen if he is executed, Thompson replies, "Well, I know that the dead can speak." When asked if he would die, Thompson says, "I think it would be a horrible ending, because if the dead can speak...you got thoughts going on in the grave. I don't know about that," he tells Logan. Thompson also claims he received a check for $444,000 for writing songs for country western stars and gave it to his victim's family.
Could Thompson, who admitted kidnapping Brenda Lane 22 years ago and stabbing her to death, be faking mental illness? "For over 20 years, prison doctors have administered very powerful anti-psychotic drugs to Greg Thompson," says Chavis. "I don't know of any doctors that would prescribe or force that type of medication upon a person unless they believed they were truly psychotic."
Chavis and her partner, Steve Kissinger, say there is proof Thompson was psychotic when he killed Lane. The evidence "[was] never brought up at trial because the trial attorneys did not consult with the proper people that would have seen those clear signs of Greg's psychosis at the time," says Chavis, "the clear signs of psychosis that everybody agrees about now."
In an unusual turn, a federal appeals court ruled that a lower court should examine evidence that Thompson was mentally ill at the time of the crime. Then the Supreme Court narrowly overruled the decision, saying it was too late to raise that issue.
Barbara Brown, Lane's sister and only surviving close family member, says Thompson may be insane now, but not when he killed her sister. "He's been sitting on death row 22 years, almost anyone would be insane after this period of time," she says. "It's just not right that he was given a death sentence and it not carried out.
"I think I have to forgive him," Brown tells Logan. "I am a Christian...and we are to forgive people. It's hard [but] yes, I do want to see him executed."
Thompson's lawyers are going back to federal court this month and hope eventually to get a ruling that Thompson - despite his medication -- is mentally incompetent and should not be executed. The Tennessee attorney general, who declined 60 MINUTES' request for an interview, is expected to argue that Thompson understands why he is being punished, is not insane and, therefore, should be executed.