Fla. set to execute mass killer after stay denied

By the Associated Press | October 23, 2012 | 7:34 PM EDT

This undated photo provided by the Florida Department of Corrections shows death-row inmate John Errol Ferguson. Florida is going ahead with the execution of Ferguson, 64, a convicted mass killer from the 1970s, after an appeals court lifted a last-minute stay. Ferguson is set to die at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2012, at Florida State Prison. Ferguson has been on Florida's death row for 34 years. (AP Photo/Florida Department of Corrections)

STARKE, Fla. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court has denied an emergency request for a stay in the scheduled execution of a Florida mass killer who sought a reprieve because of mental illness.

The justices rejected the request Tuesday from 64-year-old John Errol Ferguson, who has been on Florida's death row for 34 years. Ferguson's lawyers contend his mental illness should prevent his execution.

The execution was scheduled for Tuesday evening.

Ferguson was convicted of killing eight people in South Florida in the 1970s, including a teenage couple, and was a prime suspect in another double slaying. Previous judges have ruled that he is legally competent to be executed even though he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia.