A judge will order Dale Wayne Eaton to undergo a mental evaluation which could determine whether he will face the death penalty.
Eaton was convicted of killing 18-year-old Lisa Marie Kimmell in 1988 as she traveled across Wyoming. He was sentenced to death in 2004.
Last month, following 15 years of appeals and court rulings, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear Eaton’s final appeal. Following that decision, Wyoming prosecutors have re-stated their intentions to continue pursuing Eaton’s execution.
At a hearing in Natrona County, Wyo. today, one of Eaton’s attorneys asked that he be present when Eaton’s evaluation is performed.
Assistant District Attorney Mike Blonigen countered that the presence of Eaton’s attorney could affect the outcome of the evaluation.
Shane Sanderson reports:
During Tuesday’s hearing, Assistant District Attorney Mike Blonigen said he would respond to the filing by June 19th. Eaton’s lawyers will have another week to respond, and then Judge Daniel Forgey on July 10th will hold a hearing to rule on the issue before ordering the evaluation.Billings Gazette
The current court proceedings will not change the outcome of Eaton’s 2004 conviction, but could potentially lead to a resentencing of Eaton if it is determined that his execution violates his 8th Amendment Constitutional rights.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.United States Constitution, 8th Amendment
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled (Ford v. Wainwright) that the “insane” cannot be executed. However, the court’s definition of insanity does not exempt most with diagnosed mental illnesses from execution:
Justice Powell concluded that the test for whether a prisoner is insane for Eighth Amendment purposes is whether the prisoner is aware of his impending execution and of the reason for it.Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399 (1986)
While authorities believe Dale Wayne Eaton may be responsible for other murders, he has never been linked to other cases.
Eaton was a subject in Season 1 coverage of Amy Wroe Bechtel’s disappearance from Lander, Wyo. in 1997.Listen to “Season 1, Episode 2 – Junkyard Dale” on Spreaker.