Looking at the case of Steven Kenneth Staley in its starkest terms, surely it's wrong for the state of Texas to medicate a man simply to execute him.But looking at Staley's case stripped to its bare fundamentals, surely a man duly convicted for coldblooded murder must pay for his crime.Like so many aspects of the criminal justice system, Staley's situation isn't simple, straightforward or easily resolved.Instead, it's complicated, emotional, and filled with moral and legal dilemmas.Doing what's "right" depends on the state's goal: Is it to finalize a jury's verdict, or is it to respect life and human dignity, even of someone who committed a heinous act?Both are government's responsibility when acting in the name of its people. Sometimes when the goals conflict government must choose the greater good.But what should be done about Staley?There's no disputing that he participated in an atrocity.According to court testimony, Staley and a couple he met in Colorado wound up at a west Fort Worth Steak and Ale restaurant in October 1989 after committing crimes in several other states. Near closing time, the trio herded employees to the back of the building.When police arrived, restaurant manager Robert Read went with the armed robbers so other workers wouldn't be taken as hostages.Read was shot to death in the back seat of the car Staley and the others stole.A Tarrant County jury in 1991 decided that Staley should get the death penalty. In 1999, Tracey Duke got a life sentence for the killing. Duke's girlfriend, Brenda Rayburn, got a 30-year sentence for her role.The question isn't whether Staley knew what he was doing when he committed the crime. The question is whether he can understand why he is being executed -- a requirement of both the law and basic decency.Staley has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic who has severe delusions when he isn't taking antipsychotic medication.For years now, his defense team has argued that it would violate the Constitution's Eighth Amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment to forcibly medicate Staley to make him lucid enough to comprehend his execution. Prosecutors also argue that the drugs are for Staley's benefit. But clearly having him mentally healthy enough to execute benefits the state, not Staley.The case has wended its way through the courts, with execution dates being set and then lifted because of the difficulty of finding the correct balance.In 2006, state District Judge Wayne Salvant in Fort Worth allowed the state to forcibly medicate Staley. But that was appealed, and the issue still isn't settled. Staley was set for execution today, but the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals issued a stay Monday, so the debate will continue.Staley certainly must be punished for wantonly taking a life. Is forcing him to take dangerous drugs just to make him competent long enough for the state to kill him the only way to accomplish the societal goal of enforcing the rule of "Thou shalt not kill"?If the answer is "yes," that's one more glaring flaw in Texas' capital punishment system.If the answer is "no," commuting Staley's death sentence to life imprisonment would achieve punishment without the disturbing precedent that would be set by drugging him to administer a fatal injection.