Day 3 of testimony on condemned Cuyahoga County killer Abdul Awkal fate

CLEVELAND - A judge who has heard conflicting testimony must decide whether a condemned killer who says the CIA is plotting against him is mentally competent to face execution.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Stuart Friedman expects testimony from two final witnesses in Thursday's third day of testimony in the competency hearing for Abdul Awkal, 53.

Awkal received a last-minute reprieve from Gov. John Kasich last week. He was sentenced to death for killing his estranged wife and brother-in-law in a Cleveland courthouse in 1992.

The judge didn't indicate when he would rule. The new execution date is Wednesday.

A psychiatrist testifying Wednesday for the state said Awkal is mentally competent, disputing a defense claim that he is too psychotic to be executed.

"Mr. Awkal had a motive to distort information. Here's a man fighting for his life," Dr. Stephen Noffsinger testified.

Noffsinger testified that Awkal is mentally competent and had a motive to claim that the CIA has conspired against him.

A death penalty opponent who has advised the Awkal defense testified that Awkal feels remorse for the killings but opposed seeking clemency, believing the CIA was pushing for his execution.

David Singleton of Cincinnati's Ohio Justice and Policy Center said he has met with Awkal and urged him to seek clemency.

A defense expert, Dr. Pablo Stewart, interviewed Awkal on May 25 and said in an affidavit that Awkal has delusions and is mentally incompetent to be executed because he lacks a rational understanding of why he faces the death sentence.

Awkal was sentenced to death for killing his estranged wife, Latife Awkal, and brother-in-law Mahmoud Abdul-Aziz in January 1992 in a room where the Awkals were to take up divorce and custody issues.

Awkal's mental health has been the subject of court hearings for years.

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