Britt Ripkowski (Texas prison photo)
HOUSTON (January 12, 2013)--A Texas judge has halted next month's scheduled execution of death row inmate Britt Ripkowski, 41, who was convicted of suffocating a 2-year-old Utah girl on Christmas Day 1997 and then burying her body in a suitcase near Houston.
The judge ruled that Ripkowski suffers from bipolar disorder.
Ripkowski's attorney says his client has suffered from the condition since age 16.
Ripkowski was scheduled for execution on Feb. 20.
Harris County Assistant District Attorney Hardaway said a new execution date could be set if Ripkowski's mental condition stabilizes.
Authorities say Ripkowski strangled the toddler’s mother on Dec. 22, 1997 in Salt Lake City, Utah and then drove to Houston with the 2-year-old girl, Dominique Frome.
On Christmas Day, they say, he smothered the toddler and put her body in a suitcase, which he left by the side of a road in Houston for nearly a week before he retrieved it and buried it.