Lawyers in last effort to save 'insane' killer from death row

When asked what he believes will happen to him if he is executed, the triple killer's response, his attorneys say, was that he would go to Burger King.

Whether Walton - who is scheduled to die by injection on 8 June - is indeed insane and mentally retarded has been debated for nearly a decade. Some believe he is faking his behaviour to get off death row. Others argue he does not meet the legal definition of insanity or retardation.

The issue - one that has sparked frenzied debate - is before the US Supreme Court, which has just days to decide whether to take the case and determine if Walton should be executed for the 1996 slayings of three neighbours in Danville, Virginia.

Walton, 27, pleaded guilty in 1997 to the murders of Jessie and Elizabeth Kendrick, a couple in their 80s, and Archie Moore, 33. The victims were robbed and shot in the head; Moore's body was found in a cupboard, his corpse doused in cologne.

"The police told me later that Daddy was face down on the carpet in the living room with his hands above his head, as if in prayer," the Kendricks' daughter, Barbara Case, said. "Mother was in the dining area ... she had begged him not to kill her."

The Supreme Court has ruled it unconstitutional to execute the insane and mentally retarded, but left it up to individual states to define retardation. Walton's attorneys argue that Walton is schizophrenic and incapable of understanding the concept of death, and so isineligible for execution. They have also filed a clemency request with Virginia's Governor, Timothy Kaine.

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