Supreme Court stays man's execution at mother's request

The Nevada Supreme Court called a halt Wednesday to the Dec. 1 execution of Daryl Mack, granting a stay requested by his mother, Viola.

Mack is the latest Nevada death row inmate to ask all his appeals be dropped and that he be put to death. He was serving life sentence for the 1994 murder of Kim Parks in Reno when he was linked by DNA evidence to a second killing committed in 1998.

The petition was filed by Michael Pescetta, assistant federal public defender in Nevada, challenging a district court order which dismissed Mack's post-conviction habeas petition and ruled him competent to cancel further appeals.

His lawyers argued in December 2004 that Mack was not competent to assist counsel. They said he was hearing voices and was on forced medication at the time. Mack has been examined by three physicians since he told a Washoe County judge in May that he wanted to die. Two of them said he was competent to waive further appeals.

He was examined in June by Dr. Ole Thienhaus, who said Mack has a history of paranoid schizophrenia and hallucinations but that symptoms were in remission because he was on forced medication.

Four days later, Dr. Thomas Bittker filed a report concluding Mack was suffering a psychotic disorder "the clinical manifestations of which are virtually identical to paranoid schizophrenia." Bittker also reported Mack had denied killing the woman but said he would rather die than spend his life in prison. He concluded Mack did not have the ability to make a rational choice about his appeals.

An October report by another doctor, however, concluded Mack was competent to waive further appeals. Martha Piasecki concluded he suffered from schizophrenia but that it was in partial remission under medications.

Pescetta argued in the petition that the involuntary use of powerful psychotropic medication on Mack to render him competent to be executed violates his rights.

He also argued those medical diagnoses were not properly examined during hearings on Mack's status, pointing out the one doctor who believed Mack incompetent didn't testify at the hearing.

The high court ordered the state to file an answer to that petition in 20 days, to address all the issues raised and "particularly whether the appointed experts were adequately examined and subjected to the adversarial process in the proceedings." The high court also asked the state to report on why the one doctor who said Mack was not competent didn't testify before the district court.

n Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.


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