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James Blake Colburn

Mentally Ill
Paranoid Schizophrenic
Executed on March 26, 2003

  • Date of Birth: 2/29/60
  • 34 years old at the time of offense
  • Date of Offense: 6/26/94
  • Place of Offense: Montgomery County, Texas
  • Education level: 9 years (dropped out of school in the tenth-grade after failing the ninth grade due to numerous absences)

The Facts Of The Case

On June 26, 1993, James Colburn saw Peggy Murphy across the street from his home, crying. Colburn invited Murphy into his home and offered her water and beer. The State put on evidence of a struggle, and argued that Mr. Colburn sexually assaulted Ms. Murphy, but there was no evidence of sexual relations. Mr. Colburn has admitted to stabbing and strangling Ms. Murphy, stating that voices told him to do so. After the homicide Colburn went next door and asked the neighbor to call the police.

Even though the Montgomery County prosecutor stated in closing arguments that Colburn would not pose a threat to society as long as he was in prison, Texas sought and received the death penalty. The trial prosecutor also acknowledged Colburn's mental illness in his opening statement. "You are going to hear evidence that the defendant is a paranoid schizophrenic... You will hear evidence that he's heard voices and you are going to see him on tape. He's shaking or fidgeting. The State is not going to contest or deny any of that..." Despite the prosecutor's admission, the trial defense attorney did not ask for a competency hearing. The jury brought a death verdict, because, as stated in affidavits, they were afraid that if they give Colburn life, he would be released early.

At The Time Of The Homicide, James Colburn Was Actively Psychotic

In the week before the killing, Colburn had disposed of some personal family photographs that reminded him of his family's lack of support. Following this disposal, Colburn began experiencing increasing auditory and visual hallucinations. On the evening before the murder, he took an overdose of Valium. He awoke the next day experiencing strong auditory hallucinations. He still was experiencing the after-effects of the attempt overdose from the night before. When he saw, and started to talk to, Murphy he says that he could see her but her face was "out-of-focus". Colburn has a very distinct memory of a voice telling him to kill Murphy.

Colburn stabbed Murphy because he was hearing voices telling him that this murder was a way for him to get back into prison. Hours before the murder, Colburn was experiencing "blackouts" due to taking an overdose of Valium. During his taped confession Mr. Colburn is clearly dyskinetic and loses control of his bladder. Colburn eventually confessed to the homicide, informing police that he killed Murphy because he wanted to go back to prison.

James Colburn Has Long Been Suffering From Severe, Chronic Paranoid Schizophrenia

Colburn was born in the Houston, Texas area to a sixteen year old mother. He had four half-siblings, each the result of a different marriage of his mother's.

In 1967, when Mr. Colburn was seventeen, he was diagnosed with acute paranoid schizophrenia characterized by hallucinations, delusions, and suicidal intentions. He also showed signs of post-traumatic distress disorder due to being raped as a teenager. At the age of seventeen, he was raped by a man, who picked him up while Colburn was hitchhiking. As a result of his mental illness, Colburn has a history of suicide attempts and self-mutilation. The medical history indicates that Colburn has been enuretic throughout his childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.

In his adolescence Colburn began to abuse drugs in response to the anxieties and his underlying psychiatric disorder. He abused alcohol, marijuana, hash, angel dust, PCP, LSD, gasoline, and glue.

Partially due to his drug abuse, Colburn had a significant arrest record. His first arrest was at 15 for driving a car in an unauthorized manner. He was arrest again at 16 for a similar offense. At 17, he was arrested for burglary. Following each of these arrests, he was observed to be psychologically impaired and referred to a psychiatric hospital.

Colburn began experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations at the age of 15. These hallucinations were, of course, exacerbated by his drug abuse. After one of his arrests, Dr. Kenneth Winaker concluded that Colburn was experiencing psychiatric and psychological problems associated with disorganization and psychotic behavior.

Colburn has been married twice, each time to a woman twenty years older than he.

In 1978, Colburn was recommended and admitted to the University of Texas Branch at Gavelstone where he was diagnosed as suffering from Paranoid Schizophrenia which was compounded by his drug abuse.

In 1979, Colburn was readmitted to the Austin State Hospital because of psychotic symptoms. Here, he was observed to experience considerable psychotic behavior, associated with command hallucinations, delusions, paranoid ideas of reference, and confusion.

Later, (the timing is not certain) Colburn was jailed in a Texas state facility for the arson of his wife's trailer. Subsequently he was charged with a Federal offense of illegal possession of a firearm through fraudulent registration. During his term in Federal prison, Colburn attempted suicide on several occasions.

Writers of Colburn's medical history point to a theme. He frequently experiences command hallucinations and would respond to those command hallucinations without reflection or thought. Such command hallucinations included overdose attempts.

James Colburn's Pre-Trial Psychiatric Care Was Badly Mismanaged

Montgomery County, Texas, has a policy that withholds medication from mentally ill prisoners unless the prisoner helps to pay for the anti-psychotics with money from his family put into his inmate commissary account. This was the case when Mr. Colburn entered the pre-trial detention center. Because of his illness, Colburn choose to spend the money on candy and other small things. Because the detention center withheld his medication, Mr. Colburn was psychotic, suicidal, and urinated and defecated upon himself throughout his pre-trial detention.

James Colburn Was Not Competent To Stand Trial

During Mr. Colburn's trial, jailers administered 2mg of intramuscular injections of a sedating psychotropic medication, Haldol, every four hours. This strong medication caused Mr. Colburn to lost consciousness in court repeatedly. The Conroe Courier reported October 7, 1995, that Mr. Colburn "sat in a state of sedation through much of the trial." Trial transcripts confirm that Mr. Colburn was sedated so heavily he fell sound asleep in open court, snoring loudly enough to force a recess.

James Colburn Never Received A Hearing To Determine His Competence To Stand Trial

Trial counsel did not request a hearing to determine Mr. Colburn's competency. The Federal District Court denied habeas relief stating that Mr. Colburn's loss of awareness during trial actually "detracted from competency concerns." Instead of holding a hearing, the Federal District Court formulated its own medical opinion that Mr. Colburn's loss of awareness indicated that Mr. Colburn was experiencing a "resultant lucid mental state" because of the drugs' beneficial effects. The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that it made no difference whether a mentally ill, sedated defendant slept through most of his trial because sleeping through a trial does not raise questions of competence.

Letters for Clemency

  • European Union Appeal for Clemency (These second letters were sent on March 4, 2003 in response to the new execution date)
  • Government of Switzerland - letter asking for clemency on 10/18/2002 signed by Ambassador of Switzerland, Christian Blickenstorfer.
  • European Union demarche asking for clemency
  • Council of Europe letter asking for clemency
  • Council of Europe letter asking for clemency (February 27, 2003. This second letter was filed in response to the new execution date.)

Mentally Ill Man Faces Execution

New York Times
November 4, 2002

HOUSTON, Nov. 3 - Barring an unexpected reprieve, James Colburn will be executed on Wednesday for the 1994 strangulation and stabbing death of Peggy Murphy. He admits he committed the murder, just as prosecutors admit the other salient point in the case: that Mr. Colburn is severely mentally ill.

Psychiatrists first detected Mr. Colburn's condition, later diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenia, when he was 14. At 17, he was raped. He soon began hearing voices and suffering delusions. He told his mother he saw a devil slither out of his stomach. Often, his medical records say, the voices told him to kill himself or his family. He has tried to commit suicide at least 15 times.

The unsettled question in Mr. Colburn's case - one upon which his life hangs - is whether it matters that he dozed through his own murder trial because he was so heavily medicated with antipsychotic drugs. His lawyers argue that the trial was unconstitutional, because his condition rendered him incompetent to stand trial. The federal appeals courts, so far, have disagreed, and the issue is now before the Supreme Court.

"On a number of levels, it's wrong to execute him," said Philip H. Hilder, one of Mr. Colburn's lawyers.

Gail McConnell, the Montgomery County assistant district attorney handling the appeal, agreed that Mr. Colburn had a tortured psychiatric history. But she noted that two psychologists had concluded that he was sane at the time of the murder and competent to stand trial.

"This case doesn't make anybody happy," Ms. McConnell said, but she added: "He was getting treated. He had his shots at the time he committed the murder."

The Colburn case comes nearly seven months after the trial of another mentally ill defendant in Houston, Andrea Yates, became a rallying cry for advocates who say the mentally ill should not be executed. Mrs. Yates was given a life sentence for drowning her five children.

In June, the Supreme Court banned executing the mentally retarded, though no such prohibition applies to the mentally ill. Unlike Mrs. Yates, Mr. Colburn, 42, has attracted little attention. But in many ways, he offers a more typical example of how a mentally ill person becomes a violent criminal.

Since childhood, Mr. Colburn has been treated in mental health programs, halfway houses and support groups. His family tried to have him institutionalized in a psychiatric hospital. Records show that as an adult, Mr. Colburn often tried to check himself into public health crisis units because of suicidal thoughts or an inability to cope.

Often, he wound up discharged with a bottle of pills. He was voted out of one support group because he tried to kill himself. One neighbor in the apartment complex where Ms. Murphy was murdered recalled that Mr. Colburn could be heard banging his head against the walls, trying to quiet the furies inside.

The psychiatrists who evaluated Mr. Colburn warned in his medical records that he could be capable of harming someone if not properly treated. He has served sentences for burglary, robbery, arson and a federal handgun violation. His family said he came to feel most secure in prison, where his medication is monitored and his freedoms are limited, and he told investigators that one reason he murdered Ms. Murphy was so he could return to a cell.

On death row, he has regularly shuttled to the psychiatric ward, including a stay from June through September. His lawyers say he was placed in treatment because he had been eating his feces and drinking his urine.

Joe Lovelace, policy director for the Texas chapter of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, said Mr. Colburn's regular transfers to the prison psychiatric unit underscored his need for treatment, though he added that a byproduct of his recent treatment was that it enabled him to be executed. Last month, an expert determined that Mr. Colburn was competent to be put to death.

"You treat him to a level of wellness so you can kill him," Mr. Lovelace said. "That really creates a question in my mind of whether or not we have a humane application of the death penalty for people with mental illness."

Peggy Murphy, 55, was murdered on June 26, 1994, in Conroe, a small town about 40 miles north of Houston. Prosecutors say Mr. Colburn invited her into his apartment for a drink. He attempted to rape her, and when she resisted, he strangled her and stabbed her with a steak knife. He then asked a neighbor to call the police.

"Peggy always tried to look for the good in people and trusted too much," said Mirah Fielden, Ms. Murphy's sister. "She had a good heart, and she was a target for this evil man."

At the trial, as prosecutors showed the videotape of Mr. Colburn's confession, jurors saw a man seemingly devoid of emotion, chewing a sandwich as he recounted the details of the killing. Defense lawyers argued insanity. Prosecutors argued that meanness, not mental illness, had provoked the killing. At least two jurors have since expressed doubts about the death sentence.

In an affidavit, Mark Mullins, the foreman, said he wrote a note asking the judge if Mr. Colburn would be eligible for parole under a life sentence. The judge responded that the jury should not consider parole, and Mr. Mullins said this damaged Mr. Colburn's chances of getting life, since some jurors worried he could be released in 10 years. (By law, he would have been required to serve at least 40 years under a life sentence.)

A crucial witness in the trial was Dr. Walter Quijano, the psychologist who found Mr. Colburn competent to stand trial but confirmed that he suffered from severe mental illness. At times, Dr. Quijano seemed to offer contradictory testimony about whether Mr. Colburn might have committed the murder in response to "command hallucinations," or voices telling him to do it.

At one point, the trial was interrupted by Jerald Crow, one of Mr. Colburn's defense lawyers. "Judge, I don't know that it matters, but I think I need a break to walk my client around the room a little bit," he said. "He's snoring kind of loud."

His other lawyer, Rick Stover, added: "They apparently injected him last night to calm him down, and I appreciate it. But he's sleeping right now."

In Mr. Colburn's appeals, Mr. Hilder and the other appellate lawyer, James Rytting, argued that he was too sedated to be aware of the proceedings. They cited a newspaper account in The Conroe Courier that described him as "in a state of sedation through much of the trial."

But the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that argument, noting that it was uncertain how often Mr. Colburn had slept and that his lawyers had failed to "show his sleepiness rendered him unable to understand the trial proceedings or to assist his attorneys in his defense." The court also cited affidavits from Mr. Colburn's trial lawyers who judged him to be competent during trial. The trial lawyers also said they thought his medicated, blank-eyed demeanor would help them convince the jury that he was insane - a tactic that failed.

Mr. Colburn's appeals lawyers filed a stay of execution motion last week before the Supreme Court, but such motions are rarely granted.

One juror said Mr. Colburn's lack of emotion in the trial convinced her he was mean and lacked compassion, not insane. That juror, Kimberly Queener, who now says she would not vote for death, said the jury did not realize that Mr. Colburn's demeanor could be explained by chronic schizophrenia.

"Had I been informed at trial that Mr. Colburn's appearance on tape and in court was due to his disease," Ms. Queener said in an affidavit, "I would have formed an entirely different opinion of him."

Colburn Execution: Supreme Court must address this case

November 5
Dallas Morning News

James Colburn killed Peggy Murphy in 1994. James Colburn is severely mentally ill. And Texas will execute Mr. Colburn Wednesday unless the Supreme Court intervenes.

The court should intervene. Mr. Colburn deserves a stay of execution and a retrospective mental competency hearing. To execute him now is wrong. But the wrongs started long ago:

Mr. Colburn, a paranoid schizophrenic, was diagnosed with mental illness as a teen. He was raped at age 17, tried to commit suicide several times, and was hooked on drugs. He never received adequate treatment. Mr. Colburn said one reason he killed Ms. Murphy was to return to jail.

He did not receive the legal protections that mentally ill Texans are afforded. His court-appointed lawyers never requested a hearing on his competency to stand trial. Texas should hold even mentally ill people accountable. But Mr. Colburn was so medicated that he slept through portions of his trial and could not participate in his defense.

"Given a life sentence, is there a possibility of parole in this case?" Mr. Colburn's jury asked during its deliberations. Following Texas law, the judge told the jury not to consider parole. The jury did not know that a life sentence would require Mr. Colburn to serve 40 years before he would come up for parole at age 75. It also was unaware of the extent of Mr. Colburn's mental illness.

The Legislature must address the issues in this case. It should improve mental health funding, review indigent defense standards and improve sentencing guidelines.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court should stop this execution. Texas and Mr. Colburn deserve better justice.

(source: Editorial, Dallas Morning News)

Stay sought for schizophrenic's execution tonight

November 5, 2002
Houston Chronicle

Lawyers for condemned inmate James Colburn called on Montgomery County prosecutors Monday to join them in requesting a stay of execution so that Colburn's mental condition could be further evaluated.

James Rytting said a recent court-ordered examination that determined Colburn competent to be executed was insufficient and did not even reflect the correct diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia. "The Montgomery County district attorney has said this is an unfortunate case and no one feels happy about it," Rytting said. "I would ask, if that is the situation, that the Montgomery County district attorney agree to a stay of execution so that we can work out very serious issues that still remain in this case involving executing someone who is mentally ill." Gail McConnell, an assistant district attorney in Montgomery County who handles capital murder appeals, declined Rytting's invitation.

"If there were any evidence that the defendant were not competent to be executed, we would have done what is right," McConnell said. "If Mr. Colburn were not competent, we would not be pursuing the execution Wednesday." State law requires only that the inmate know that his execution is imminent and the reason for his punishment. Rytting was waiting Monday to hear the outcome of a series of last-minute appeals.

He said he did not file a clemency request with the Board of Pardons and Paroles because of the board's record of not granting them. Colburn's latest appeals hinge on his current competency and his condition at the time of trial. Given injections of an anti-psychotic medication shortly before the trial began, he was drowsy or sleeping for much of the proceedings, his attorneys claim. They say that made him incompetent to stand trial. Rytting was joined at a news conference by Colburn's sister, Tina Morris, and several anti-death penalty groups which condemned the scheduled execution.

"We are not taking care of mentally ill people properly," said Dave Atwood, a member of the Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. "Our answer to a societal problem is to execute the mentally ill person. We have to wake up and correct these problems. Executing mentally ill people is just wrong."

Colburn, 42, is set to die for the 1984 murder of Peggy Murphy near Conroe. Murphy, 55, was hitchhiking on a street outside Colburn's apartment when she asked him for a glass of water. Colburn took her into his apartment and a few minutes later grabbed her in an apparent attempt to force her to have sex.

When she resisted, he strangled and stabbed her. He then went to a neighbor's house and asked him to call police. Colburn confessed later that day. He said he had a "flash" to kill Murphy so that he could return to prison, where he would be safe.

Morris said that he had told family members about hearing voices in the days before the murder. "He fought with the voices," Morris said. "He tried to commit suicide a number of times and was in and out of the mental hospital. He never really got constant help. He's lived a very pathetic life."

Prosecutors at his trial pointed out that Colburn told detectives that he did not hear voices commanding him to kill Murphy, but was instead acting on a sudden impulse. They also said he was receiving proper medication to control his psychosis.

(source: Houston Chronicle)

Spare Schizophrenic's Life

November 5, 2002
Los Angeles Times

James Colburn was raped at 17 by a man who picked him up when he was hitchhiking. He began suffering delusions. He told his mother he saw a devil slither out of his stomach. Voices told him to kill himself or his family.

A psychiatrist diagnosed chronic paranoid schizophrenia and Colburn's relatives tried to commit him for long-term treatment. They failed; public officials said he wasn't an immediate danger to himself or others. Now 42, Colburn is on death row in Texas, imprisoned for the 1994 murder of 55-year-old Peggy Murphy. He is to be killed by lethal injection Wednesday. His lawyers have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the execution. It should do that.

Though the court in June banned the execution of the mentally retarded, it has yet to rule on whether the seriously mentally ill should also be spared. Some high court judges worry, with good reason, that lawyers and psychiatrists could wield dubious "disorders" in attempts to absolve virtually anyone of responsibility. Indeed, common sense suggests that the shakiest of lines distinguish insane murderers from the purely rational variety.

Texas, on the other hand, would be unequivocally coldblooded to execute Colburn for 2 simple reasons:

* His trial was unfair. The U.S. Constitution requires that defendants be physically and mentally competent to understand the charges against them. Colburn was given such high doses of a sedating antipsychotic that he slept through large parts of the trial.

* Executing him would be perverse. Society let Colburn live for years with severe mental illness. Now the state will finally address his illness, thoroughly medicating him to assure that he has a full grasp of what's happening when he is executed.

One of Colburn's jurors, Kimberly Queener, says she would not have voted for death had the jury been told just 2 facts: that schizophrenia and medications can cause a bland facial expression (something jurors had interpreted as a lack of remorse) and that the jury could have called for a sentence that would have kept the killer forever away from any future victims.

It's hard to blame Texas for feeling unmerciful toward a killer. But Colburn's case is exceptional. The Supreme Court should intervene. And people should grasp that allowing someone to suffer overwhelming mental illness is a prescription for tragedy.

(source: Editorial, Los Angeles Times)

High Court Declines Execution Halt

Tuesday November 5, 2002 11:50 PM

HOUSTON (AP) - The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to halt the execution of a Texas death row inmate whose lawyers argue was mentally ill and unable to assist in his defense at his murder trial.

James Colburn, 42, was convicted of killing a woman in his home in 1994 and has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic. His execution is scheduled Wednesday.

The Supreme Court declared in June that executing mentally retarded murderers is unconstitutionally cruel. But the justices have refused blanket protection for all mentally ill people.

``It shows that there is a long way to go in the fight for rights of people who suffer from mental illness,'' Colburn's lawyer James Rytting, said of Tuesday's decision.

Rytting contends Colburn was so heavily sedated during his trial that he slept through much of it.

Colburn was convicted in the slaying of Peggy Louise Murphy, a 55-year-old hitchhiker. Colburn invited her into his house, tried to rape her, then choked and stabbed her.

Colburn said he was hearing voices at the time and when he realized what he had done, he turned himself in.

Seven high court justices voted against halting the execution. Justices John Paul Stevens and Ruth Bader Ginsburg voted for a stay.

Genuine justice calls for sparing severely mentally ill

Editorial, Houston Chronicle, Nov 06, 2002

There is no question that the ninth-grade dropout James Colburn is a murderer. But there also is no question that the man is severely mentally ill. Colburn is ill to the extent that he had to be heavily sedated through his trial; he was so drugged, in fact, that he apparently slept through much of it.

It is unfortunate that the Texas criminal justice system let this matter go so far that it now will take intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court to spare Colburn, a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic, the death penalty tonight.

Indeed, the high court should step in.

In June, it banned execution of the mentally retarded as cruel and unusual punishment. The justices have not indicated they will make a similar pronouncement with regard to the gravely mentally ill, but there are similar issues that require airing.

According to mental health experts, a major mental illness such as schizophrenia can be as debilitating as mental retardation in terms of the role it can play in criminal acts, even though schizophrenia wouldn't necessarily make a sufferer incapable of distinguishing right from wrong, such as a mentally retarded person might be. In Colburn's case, appellate lawyers are arguing, not insensibly, that drugging the defendant into a torpor during his trial denied him his constitutional right to be competent to understand the charges against him. Colburn, who also has been convicted of arson and robbery, admits he killed Peggy Louise Murphy near Conroe in 1994. He deserves to be punished.

But what justice is there, really, in carrying out a capital punishment sentence for a person who suffers from voices and hallucinations caused by a disabling major mental illness? Adequate mental health services may have spared Colburn years of suffering and might have spared his victim's life.

It is no secret that Texas has inadequate resources for helping the mentally ill lead normal lives. Looked at another way, it would be better for all and a service to justice if such serious mental health issues were addressed before there is any need to deal with them within the criminal justice system and on death row.

Mentally ill Texas man should not be executed

Editorial, San Antonio Express-News, Nov 06, 2002

If ever there was a case in which the U.S. Supreme Court should have intervened to stop an execution, it is that of James Colburn, a severely mentally ill inmate scheduled to die tonight for the 1994 murder of a hitchhiker.The nation's highest court on Tuesday refused by a 7-2 vote to halt his execution.

The 42-year-old Colburn was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic as a teen but did not receive a competency hearing to stand trial. His court-appointed attorneys did not even request one, yet another indication of the inadequacy of the state's legal protections for the mentally ill. The court should have addressed this case for other reasons. The jury in Colburn's case did not learn the extent of his mental illness or that a life sentence would have required him to serve 40 years before he becoming eligible for parole at age 75.

During his trial, Colburn was so heavily medicated with antipsychotic drugs that he slept through much of the proceedings. How can a sleeping defendant aid his lawyer in his defense? If Colburn had been mentally retarded instead of mentally ill, he would not be executed. A U.S. Supreme Court ruling bans capital punishment for the mentally retarded.

The Texas legislature, when it reconvenes, should ban executions of the mentally ill. Unfortunately, that's likely to be too late for Colburn.

Clemency Denied To Texas Killer

The Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles refused to grant clemency Monday to a mentally ill condemned killer facing execution later this week.

James Colburn doesn't deny killing the 55-year-old woman as she resisted a rape attempt at his apartment, but his lawyers contend he should be spared because he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.

Colburn, 43, set to die Wednesday evening, was turned down by the parole board in a 16-1 vote with one abstention.

Colburn's lawyer, James Rytting, acknowledged Monday that he didn't expect the panel to rule in Colburn's favor.

"At some point, we do hope when the bodies mount high enough, people's attitudes will change," Rytting said.

Colburn won a last-minute reprieve in November from the U.S. Supreme Court, which stopped his scheduled lethal injection 1 minute before he could have been taken to the death chamber in Huntsville.

The high court in January then refused to take up the issue of whether prisoners like Colburn are too mentally ill to be executed, clearing the way for authorities in Texas to reschedule Colburn's death.

The Supreme Court last year halted the execution of the mentally retarded as unconstitutionally cruel and unusual punishment, but the justices so far have refused blanket protection from the death penalty for people with mental illness.

Colburn, whose criminal past includes convictions for arson and robbery, was convicted of killing Peggy Murphy, 55, on June 26, 1994.

(source: Associated Press)

2 Courts Won't Stop Execution in Texas


LIVINGSTON, Tex., March 25 The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals and a federal district court refused today to stop the execution of a mentally ill convicted killer who is scheduled to die on Wednesday. The appeals court's rejection of an appeal from the prisoner, James Colburn, 43, returned his case to the federal courts, where it was turned down later in the day by a federal judge in Houston.

Mr. Colburn does not deny killing a woman, but his lawyers contend that he should be spared because he has paranoid schizophrenia. One of Mr. Colburn's lawyers said he would take the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans.In January, the Supreme Court refused to take up the issue of whether prisoners like Mr. Colburn are too unstable to be executed, clearing the way for the authorities to reschedule Mr. Colburn's punishment.Elsewhere, two other inmates were executed by injection today. In Oklahoma, John M. Hooker, 49, was executed for stabbing his girlfriend and her mother to death in 1988. In Georgia, Larry E. Moon, 57, was executed for the robbery and murder of a man at a convenience store in 1984.