Since Paul Dennis Reid’s murderous 1997 binge during which he savagely killed seven restaurant workers, all but one expert who has evaluated his mental health has declared him incompetent. But not a single court has declared him incompetent. As of this writing, Reid, whose guilt isn’t in question, was preparing for state execution, having ordered French toast, peanut butter, bananas and milk for his last meal. As you read this, he is either a cold, stiff corpse or his 11th-hour stay by federal judge Todd Campbell—to allow a competency hearing—held up to the state’s Tuesday night appeal to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which came after the Scene’s deadline.
But in either case, the following letter from Reid to the Scene—dated June 18 and written on lined notebook paper in response to a reporter’s request for an interview—offers both a clear and disturbing idea of the inmate’s mental health. It leaves little room for doubt, in fact, that he is utterly insane. Along with his letter, he attached tract-like documents related to the issue of “mind control.” They are as bizarre and ludicrous as Reid’s own words, which follow, verbatim, here:
Thank-you kindly for your interest in my case.May I please direct your undivided attention to the eleven (11) enclosed documents, and, may I advise you to consider to vet every word.Should you elect to take me at my word, I’d share with you the veracity of my life commencing Feb. 1985. In Feb. 1985, military scientist [sic] began to employ illegal scientific technology on my person, causing my ears to ring, as proven in the enclosed documents. They cause my mind to be altered, thoughts pushed, as A.D.D. symptoms, and my mind to sometimes function in the abstract. In addition, they can cause ANY part of my body to pricker. Furthermore, they have recorded my every spoken word, every word spoken to me, and my every physical movement.From Feb. 1985 to the current: conversations, acts of physical movement, etc., any person who holds a dialogue with me, every word is record [sic], and, what was spoken to me at ANY given time, since Feb. 1985, they normally will orchestrate the same person to repeat themselves to me, verbatim, the following year. What was said to me in 1985 by ANY particular person, can, and has been repeated back to me by the same person in 1986. Also, what a person may have spoke [sic] to me in 2004, is repeated to me in 2005, by the same person. Please keep in mind, not every person is coached to repeat themselves to me, only a select few. This scope extends to what I may see, visually, or hear, by any communication outlet. What I may see, or hear, in 2001 is repeated in 2002. In Oct. 1995, my father conveyed to me, he had known since 1988, my every word, and every physical movement is recorded. My mother shared with me in 2003 she also was aware of my every word, and every physical movement has been recorded since 1988. In all reality, there is NO rational way I could commit a misdemeanor, felony, homicide or ANY violation without the illegal act being recorded.I’ve lived a clean, decent life since 1990 to 1997 1⁄2, working, attending college, exercising. I’ve accepted the execution because I’m unable to get ANYONE to believe the military scientist [sic] have intruded my life, illegal, since Feb. 1985, tortured my ears, mind and body, hourly, robbed me of any identity, as an individual, and, made my existence since Feb. 1985 a miserable nightmare hell. They have attempted to kill me since 1987, to hush me up, with seven (7) homicides against me. I declare they killed me this time.”
For those who may suggest that Reid’s conspiratorial claims here are a gambit to convince cynical observers of his mental illness, consider first that he did not sign the clemency papers that Gov. Phil Bredesen rejected Tuesday and that claim he’s a certifiable nut job. Secondly, Reid has consistently espoused this mind control cabal to his pastor and others, not just to journalists.
The issue, of course, is whether this or any state should be in the business of executing the criminally insane. You decide. What you see here is either a bizarre obituary or a very abbreviated outline of what Reid’s lawyers will tell yet another court. Either way, when Reid wrote us, it was as a man awaiting death.