The Supreme Court on Mental Health & Sentencing

This fall the U.S Supreme Court heard the case of Carlos Ayestas, an indigent felon convicted of first degree murder  of a Houston woman in 1999, then later diagnosed with schizophrenia in 2001.

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Carlos Ayestas was sentenced to death for the murder of a Houston woman in 1995 prior to his schizophrenia diagnosis.   Photo credit: TDCJ/Abby Livingston

This summer the Supreme Court will decide whether the indigent convicted have a right to funding for experts and other resources at the sentencing phase.   Had Ayestas had funding for expert evaluation of his mental condition during the investigation prior to his sentencing hearing, he may have never been sentenced to death.

Ayestas’ undocumented immigrant status at the time of the murder further complicates the issues and adds much fuel to the controversy surrounding this case, especially given President Trump’s promise to prosecute such violators to the fullest extent of the law possible.

The Supreme Court is expected to side with Ayestas, recognizing the critical part mental health plays in the commission of crime.

For more, checkout this article on In Justice Today.