ACLU-Nevada Criticizes Plan To Move Ahead With Monday Execution

Nevada prison authorities are "wrongheaded" in scheduling an execution by lethal injection Monday while the U.S. Supreme Court is considering whether the injections are constitutional, the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada says.

The high court decided Sept. 25 to consider whether the injections amount to cruel and unusual punishment, but prison officials have said there's no reason to delay William Castillo's execution based on the high court's move because Castillo wants to die.

Castillo, 34, who got a death sentence for beating a retired Las Vegas teacher to death with a tire iron, has refused to file available appeals that would halt his scheduled execution at the Nevada State Prison in Carson City.

"Going ahead with executions in Nevada is wrongheaded and fundamentally at odds with the rest of the country, which is taking very seriously the claims that lethal injection is a cruel and unusual form of punishment," Lee Rowland, northern Nevada ACLU coordinator, said Tuesday.

The Supreme Court's review involves two death row inmates in Kentucky.

Rowland said many other states have stayed their executions pending the court's final decision "and of course we are disappointed that Nevada has not chosen to do the same."

Both the ACLU and the federal public defender's office are precluded from going to court on Castillo's behalf without his consent absent a finding that he's incompetent. However, Assistant Federal Defender Michael Pescetta said Tuesday his office is ready to act immediately if Castillo decides to appeal.

"All he has to do is say anything and it's off," Pescetta said.

Castillo met last week with a federal defender and repeated earlier statements that he wouldn't appeal.

Castillo was sentenced to die for the 1995 killing of Isabelle Berndt, 86, after working on a roofing job at her home and finding a hidden house key.

He and a woman companion returned, burglarized the home and murdered Berndt.

Castillo set the home on fire to destroy evidence, but he later admitted the murder to a co-worker and confessed to police.

His companion in the burglary and murder was Michelle Platou, now
serving a life term with the possibility of parole for first-degree

If he's executed, Castillo will be the 13th man to get the death sentence in Nevada since the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for capital punishment to resume in 1976.

All but one of the previous 12, Richard Moran, had refused to file appeals that could have stopped their executions.

Moran, executed in 1996 for two killings in a Las Vegas bar while on a drug and alcohol binge, didn't oppose legal efforts to keep him alive - but said he was ready to die.

The last man to be executed in the state was Daryl Linnie Mack, who received a lethal injection in April 2006.

Mack was convicted of the rape and murder of a Reno woman.