AG gets more time to file in death row appeal

By The Associated Press

JACKSON — A federal judge gives Mississippi until Jan. 5 to answer arguments that a state mental hospital can hold death row inmate James Billiot.

An extension requested last week by the attorney general’s office was granted Monday by U.S. District Judge Tom Lee.

On Nov. 3, Lee found Billiot mentally disabled, suspended his death sentence and ordered him moved within 60 days to the Mississippi State Hospital at Whitfield.

Attorney General Jim Hood says Whitfield’s old buildings and inadequate security couldn’t handle Billiot.

Billiot’s attorneys say the hospital has housed and treated felons since the 1950s — and briefly held Billiot himself.

Billiot was convicted of using an 8-pound sledgehammer to kill his mother, stepfather and 14-year-old stepsister in 1981.