Arkansas Death Row Inmate Granted Stay Of Execution; Experts Weigh-In

FORT SMITH (KFSM) -- Arkansas death row inmate Jack Greene was convicted in 1991 for the murder of Pastor Sidney Burnett, who was beaten with a can of hominy, stabbed and shot.

Greene was set to be executed at the Arkansas Varner Unit on Thursday (Nov. 9). The Arkansas Supreme Court halted the planned execution of Greene, whose attorney says suffers from psychotic delusions and is mentally ill.

Justices on Tuesday granted the request for an emergency stay and did not elaborate on a reason.

Greene's attorney had asked for the stay so justices could review a lower court's decision to dismiss his challenge of a state law that give Arkansas top prison official the authority to determine whether he is competent.

Fort Smith attorney Ron Fields has been following Greene's case and has spent years in criminal law. He weighed-in on the highly debatable and controversial issue.

"The victim's families are sitting there wondering when is justice going to be complete?" Fields said. "The petition in the Greene case, it could have been filed last year, two years ago, four years ago, eight years ago but they filed it this week, three days before the execution date. Again, there's no penalty for that and they are being rewarded."

In response to the state's Supreme Court decision, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge stated, "With no written order or explanation provided, the Arkansas Supreme Court has once again delayed justice for the family of Sidney Burnett. I will continue to fight for justice for Sidney Burnett and to give the Burnett family the closure they deserve."

The Arkansas Attorney General is not expected to fight the court's decision, according to a spokesperson.

5NEWS reached out to Greene's attorney for comment. He would not go on camera but said, "It's not constitutional to execute someone who is suffering from a mental illness that prevents him from rationally understanding his execution," attorney John C. Williams released in a statement.

Fields said in following the case, he believes the definition of what defines a mental illness is more subjective than ever before.

"The problem is, the question of what is mental illness isn't simple anymore. Mental illness is, I am wearing a blue shirt and you prefer black. It's just totally gone away from reality. Everything becomes a mental illness issue," Fields said.

Fields explained what he believes will happen next in the Jack Greene case.

"The Arkansas Supreme Court is going to rule. If it's not favorable, whichever side is going to take it up to the Federal Courts and you're talking another four, five, six or eight years possibly," he said.