Mississippi execution on hold

Death row inmate Robert Simon Jr. won’t be executed April 20, as requested by the state attorney general’s office.

On Thursday, the state Supreme Court granted the state’s motion for access to Simon’s medical records related to “any alleged fall and resulting blow to the head” that Simon’s attorney said occurred at the prison.

The court gave the Department of Corrections until Monday to provide records to the attorney general’s office and the defense.

The order further said, “The Court is holding in abeyance all other rulings and will accept no additional or supplemental filings regarding the motions pending before the Court after 5 p.m. April 21.”

Simon’s attorney, T.H. Freeland IV, filed a motion April 1 alleging Simon hit his head in prison and is incompetent for execution.

His motion was in response to Attorney General Jim Hood’s request for the execution date.

Freeland doesn’t describe how Simon hit his head, but said Simon can’t understand his case and has trouble carrying on conversations.

Freeland wants the state Supreme Court to block the execution and send the case back to Quitman County judge for a hearing on Simon’s competency.

Simon, 47, was sentenced to death for the killings of Carl Parker, his wife, Bobbie Jo, and their son, Gregory, on Feb. 2, 1990. He was sentenced to life in prison for the killing of Charlotte Parker, the slain couple’s 9-year-old daughter. The killings occurred a few hours after the family had returned to their rural Quitman County home from church services.

Hood’s office also has asked that the state be allowed to execute death row inmates Benny Joe Stevens on May 4 and Rodney Gray on April 27, after the U.S. Supreme Court had declined to hear their appeals.

The Mississippi Supreme Court has given attorneys for Stevens until Monday to file briefs opposing the setting of an execution date.

Stevens, 52, was sentenced to death in 1999 in the slayings of four people in the Foxworth community of Marion County.

Among those killed were Stevens’ former wife and their 11-year-old son. Stevens’ 16-year-old daughter was wounded and escaped from the mobile home.

Gray, 38, was sentenced to death in 1996 for killing an elderly woman in 1994.

Grace Blackwell, 79, was last seen in her car, withdrawing money from a bank. Her body was found later that day at the end of a bridge in Newton County. She had been shot several times. Her billfold, checkbook and the contents of her purse were found nearby, and her car was later found behind a service station in Decatur.

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