Oklahoma Judge Finds Wade Lay Unfit for Death Row Execution, Cites Mental Health Concerns 

By Sofia Hosseinzadeh

McALESTER, OK – Associate District Judge Tim Mills ruled Wade Lay mentally incompetent for a death row execution, according to The Oklahoman.

Lay was convicted of first-degree murder for the death of bank security guard Kenneth Anderson on May 24, 2004, when Lay and his son Chris attempted to rob a bank in Tulsa Oklahoma according to the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals.

The opinion by the court states Lay and his son robbed the bank to “fund the purchase of guns to avenge the United States Government’s attacks on Ruby Ridge and the Branch Davidians.”

“The Lays believed that the United States Government had become tyrannical and that they had to start a patriotic revolution as was done by America’s founding fathers,” the opinion stated.

According to an article by The Oklahoman, Lay had his execution scheduled for June 6 for shooting and killing Anderson in the 2004 robbery.

The same article reported Lay has been diagnosed with schizophrenia and an expert in 2021 reported Lay believed his execution was happening “to prevent him from presenting his ideas in an open forum.”

Oklahoma law surrounding the death penalty requires “rational understanding of the reason he or she is being executed” as an indicator of mental competence for execution, according to The Oklahoman article.

Scott Orth, a state expert in psychology, evaluated Lay and concluded Lay does not “have a rational understanding as to the reason for his execution, i.e., that he was convicted of murder.”

Under Oklahoma law, Lay does not satisfy the mental competency requirements needed to carry out his execution, said the court.

In addition, The Oklahoman also reported Lay’s competency trial and clemency hearing were both canceled before Judge Mills deemed Lay unfit for execution.

Callie Heller, one of Lay’s attorneys, expressed their satisfaction with Judge Mills’ decision, commenting, “We are relieved. Wade firmly believes that his execution is part of a wide-ranging government conspiracy aimed at silencing him.”

Richart DeMier, another psychologist who evaluated Lay on behalf of Lay’s attorneys also stated, “He lacks a rational understanding of the reason Oklahoma seeks his execution. He believes the ‘true’ reason is that his views must be silenced.”

According to an AP News article, James Chandler Ryder also was taken off death row in Oklahoma in March due to a lack of mental competency. Lay’s case is the second instance of an Oklahoma death row inmate being found unfit for execution.

The next individual up for death row in Oklahoma is Richard Norman Rojem, Jr., who, according to the article by The Oklahoman, is on death row for the stabbing of a seven-year-old girl in 1984, a crime Rojen claims he did not commit.

About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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