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imageWASHINGTON: The lawyer of a mentally ill man who killed eight people and proclaimed himself "the prince of God" has petitioned the US Supreme Court for a halt to his execution.

John Ferguson, 65, who has a documented history of paranoid schizophrenia, is scheduled to be executed on a Monday August 5 execution at Florida State Prison in Raiford.

Ferguson was found guilty of six murders in a 1977 home invasion and the murder of two adolescents in 1978, according to court documents.

He has spent 35 years on death row.

The defense appealed on the basis of a previous Supreme Court decision that stated that an individual must have a rational understanding of the reason for and effect of his execution.

According to Ferguson's lawyer Christopher Handman, his client has a 40-year history of mental illness and believes he will return to earth in his own body after his execution and save America from a communist plot.

"John Ferguson is a sick, elderly man. Executing Mr. Ferguson would be an unconscionable violation of the Eighth Amendment and our shared values respecting human life," Handman said in a statement.

The execution, which has already given rise to multiple appeals, was already suspended once last fall.

A similar case is playing out in Georgia where a stay of execution was issued last week for Warren Hill, a mentally disabled man. Hill's attorneys also appealed to the Supreme Court.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2013

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