News

Upcoming Arkansas Execution In Doubt Because of Lethal Injection Problems and Clemency Recommendation

A state judge in Arkansas has thrown further doubt on whether the upcoming execution of Frank Williams will be carried out on September 9 because the state did not follow proper procedures in adopting its lethal injection protocol.  Pulaski County Circuit Judge Timothy Fox barred the Arkansas Department of Correction from using the protocol in its execution of Frank Williams, Jr. because the new execution procedures should have been subject to public comment before implementation. Chief Deputy Attorney General Justin Allen commented, “The million-dollar question is: What does that do to the September execution date? That is still uncertain.” Judge Fox referred to the Arkansas Administrative Procedure Act in his ruling that the new protocols are subject to public scrutiny and input. Allen said Williams' execution will likely be delayed if the Arkansas Supreme Court doesn’t overturn the lower court's ruling.

Earlier in August, the Arkansas Parole Board recommended that Frank Williams' death sentence be commuted to life without parole. The Board had received petitions for clemency from 13 state, national, and international organizations and developmental disabilities experts which concluded that Mr. Williams suffers from mental retardation based on his sub-average adaptive functioning and the diagnosis of psychological experts. The requests for clemency emphasized the fact that executing a mentally retarded person is unconstitutional based on both Arkansas’ 1993 statutory ban and the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling in Atkins v. Virginia. Courts have not reviewed the evidence of Mr. Williams' mental retardation because neither his trial lawyer nor his post-conviction appeals attorney raised this issue. The appellate courts have concluded that Williams is now barred from proving his mental retardation because it was not presented earlier.

The recommendation for clemency now goes to Governor Mike Beebe, who will decide whether to accept the Board's recommendation or allow the execution to go forward. The judge’s ruling on lethal injection may also affect the September 9 execution date.
(Associated Press, “Judge’s ruling could delay Arkansas inmate’s execution,” August 29, 2008; R. Moritz, “Parole board recommends clemency for condemned killer,” Arkansas News Bureau, August 6, 2008). See Mental Retardation, Lethal Injection, and Clemency. (This is an update of an item posted earlier.)


 


Read More 8,796 reads
After 27 Years on Death Row, California Man's Sentence Reduced to Life

California prosecutors and defense attorneys recently agreed that Calvin Coleman, Jr., a man sentenced to death for murder in 1980, is mentally retarded and therefore exempt from capital punishment. After the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 decision that declared execution of mentally retarded individuals unconstitutional (Atkins v. Virginia), California modified its laws in 2005 to conform to the ruling. Coleman is the first person about whom both the prosecution and the defense agreed that he met the conditions. Some cases have been rejected while others are still pending.

The determination began with months of gathering records and testing the defendant on death row. California’s new law defines retardation as “significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning” with “deficits in adaptive behavior” before the age of 18; it does not use a strict IQ standard. Prosecutor Rob LaForge said his office gathered thousands of documents, “essentially going back to the birth of Mr. Coleman until now,” to assess his mental status. One of Coleman’s attorneys, Michael Charlson, said, “I give credit to the District Attorney’s Office here. They did their own testing and reached a conclusion consistent with what we contended. They did the right thing when the facts became known.”

Records showed that Coleman had a history of mental deficits, first noted in court records at the age of 13. The initial cause may have been brain damage resulting from a car crash in 1971 and an alleged blow to the head from a counselor at a youth facility. His IQ tests have ranged from the mid-60’s at the age of 13 to 72 as an adult. Attorney Charlson commented, “Whatever a person’s view on the death penalty, I don’t think anyone would dispute that it needs to be administered in a fair way.”
( L. Carter, "Killer’s death penalty tossed --- D.A., defense agree man in ’80 Healdsburg slaying is mentally deficient, ineligible for execution,” Press Democrat, August 28, 2008). See Mental Retardation and Arbitrariness. In some states, Coleman would have been executed many years ago.


Read More 5,309 reads
Arkansas Parole Board Recommends Life Without Parole for Mentally Disabled Man

In a 4-3 vote, the Arkansas Parole Board recommended that Frank Williams' death sentence be commuted to life without parole. The Board had received petitions for clemency from 13 state, national, and international organizations and developmental disabilities experts which concluded that Mr. Williams suffers from mental retardation based on his sub-average adaptive functioning and the diagnosis of psychological experts. The requests for clemency emphasized the fact that executing a mentally retarded person is unconstitutional based on both Arkansas’ 1993 statutory ban and the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling in Atkins v. Virginia. Courts have not reviewed the evidence of Mr. Williams' mental retardation because neither his trial lawyer nor his post-conviction appeals attorney raised this issue. The appellate courts have concluded that Williams is now barred from proving his mental retardation because it was not presented earlier.

The recommendation for clemency now goes to Governor Mike Beebe, who will decide whether to accept the Board's recommendation or allow the execution to go forward as scheduled on September 9th.
(R. Moritz, “Parole board recommends clemency for condemned killer,” Arkansas News Bureau, August 6, 2008). See Mental Retardation and Clemency. (This is a revised version of an item posted earlier.)

 


Read More 5,472 reads
Mental Retardation Group Pleads for Clemency for Mentally Disabled Man in Arkansas

Arkansas’ leading advocacy organization for people with mental retardation, Arc Arkansas, delivered a letter to Governor Mike Beebe and the Arkansas Parole Board urging clemency for Frank Williams, Jr. because of his mental retardation. He is scheduled for execution on September 9 and the Arkansas Parole Board is holding a clemency hearing on his case on August 4. The letter notes that executing a mentally retarded person is unconstitutional based on both Arkansas’ 1993 statutory ban and the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 ruling in Atkins v. Virginia.

Williams was held back in school three times before dropping out in the 10th grade. Arc Arkansas’ Chief Operating Officer, Cynthia Stone, wrote, “It would be a great injustice and a violation of our own state laws to execute Frank Williams, Jr., who is a person with lifelong mental retardation.” She added, “The Parole Board should recommend and Governor Beebe should grant clemency for Mr. Williams in order to prevent this terrible injustice.” The letter further describes the circumstances of his sentence as tragic compounded by bad timing and woefully inadequate representation.
(A. Davis, “Group urges clemency for death-row inmate,” Arkansas Democrat Gazette, July 31, 2008). See Mental Retardation and Clemency.


Read More 4,256 reads
VA Governor Commutes Death Sentence of Mentally Ill Man

WaltonVirginia Governor Timothy Kaine commuted the death sentence of Percy Walton (pictured) to life in prison without parole. Kaine cancelled the execution, scheduled for 9pm on June 10, because “one cannot reasonably conclude that Walton is fully aware of the punishment he is about to suffer and why he is to suffer it”. The Governor found “that Walton’s clemency petition presented significant evidence that Walton had schizophrenia, that such a mental illness can cause serious deterioration of mental competence, and that Walton’s mental state had deteriorated since 2003 such that there was more than a minimal chance that Walton no longer knew why he was to be executed or was even aware of the final punishment he was about to receive.”

After over two years of tests and observation, the Governor found that “Walton differs in fundamental ways from other death row offenders. He lives in a self-imposed state of isolation that includes virtually no interest in receiving or understanding information.” The Governor added, “While he was not insane at the time of his crimes, there are strong indications that his mental illness started prior to the murders." He also cited recent evidence of Walton's possible mental retardation. The Governor cited the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Ford v. Wainwright that “forbids the execution of those who are unaware of the punishment they are about to suffer and why they are to suffer it.”


Read More 6,116 reads
NEW RESOURCES: Sentence Reversals in Mental Retardation Cases

Prof. John Blume of Cornell University Law School has compiled the cases in which an inmate's death sentence was reduced because of a finding of mental retardation. His research revealed 83 such reversals since 2002. In Atkins v. Virginia (2002), the U.S. Supreme Court held that it is unconstitutional to apply the death penalty to defendants with mental retardation. The Court did not, however, establish a definition for mental retardation or determine the procedures for proving a claim of retardation. Some states have not yet passed legislation to determine this process. Litigation continues six years after the Atkins decision regarding the possible retardation of those on death row.

Prof. Blume's research includes the race and gender of the defendant and of the victims in the underlying murder, the existence of IQ scores where known, the limitations on daily functioning exhibited by the inmate, and the legal source supporting the finding of retardation.


Read More 4,173 reads
Sentence Reversals in Intellectual Disability Cases
 

Defendants Whose Death Sentences Have Been Reduced
Because of a Finding of "Mental Retardation" since Atkins v. Virginia (2002)

-Compiled by Prof. John Blume, Cornell University Law School, as of May 8, 2008. (83 Cases). Subsequent cases added below chart from the Atkins Project, Cornell Univ., as of July 19, 2012 (15 cases)

UPDATE (2015): There have been wide variations among states in exempting defendants with intellectual disability from the death penalty. Professor John Blume (l.) of Cornell Law School, along with three co-authors, analyzed claims filed under the Supreme Court's decision in Atkins v. Virginia (2002) against executing defendants with intellectual disability (formerly, "mental retardation"). Overall, from 2002 through 2013, only about 7.7% (371) of death row inmates or capital defendants have raised claims of intellectual disability. The total "success" rate for such claims was 55%. In North Carolina, the success rate was 82%, and in Mississippi 57%. However, in Georgia (where Warren Hill was recently executed), the success rate for those claiming this disability was only 11%, and in Florida, the success rate was zero. The authors found that states that significantly deviated from accepted clinical methods for determining intellectual disability, such as Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Texas, had the lowest success rates. To preserve equal protection under the law, the authors recommended the Supreme Court strike down aberrant practices in isolated states, just as it struck down Florida's strict IQ cutoff. (J. Blume, et al., "A TALE OF TWO (AND POSSIBLY THREE) ATKINS: INTELLECTUAL DISABILITY AND CAPITAL PUNISHMENT TWELVE YEARS AFTER THE SUPREME COURT'S CREATION OF A CATEGORICAL BAR," 23 William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 393 (2014)).

State Name Defendant Race/Gender Victim(s) Race/Gender IQ Scores Defects in Adaptive Functioning Source Etc.
AL James Borden W/M W/F 65-66, 53 Ability to manage money, manage home and transportation, manage health and safety and in his social adjustment. 2004 WL 362256 (Ala.Crim.App.)  
AL Glenn Holiday (Holladay?) W/M   49, 56, 54, 66, 71, 69, 68, 72, 71, 65 functional academics, work, communication, social skills, community use granted MR relief in federal court, but the State is appealing  
AL Jeremiah Jackson B/M F 69-72   Jackson v. State, 2006 WL 2788980 (Ala.Crim.App. Sep 28, 2006).  
AZ Jose Calderon-Palomino H/M          
AZ Ramon Martinez-Villareal H/M W/M &H/M 50-64 work, social skills, language and communication, and self-care stipulated to Atkins relief  
AZ Efrain Vega-Bustamante M          
CA Efrain Hernandez M   67, 65, 57      
CA Jorge Vidal M M 81, 92, 78, 77      
CA London Willard M       Contra Costa County Superior Court Case No. 020571-6. District Attorney stipulated to client’s incompetence under Penal Code § 1368, and dropped death demand, based in part on client’s mental retardation.
CO Jimmy Vasquez H/M F 70, 72, 61, 64 communication, functional academics, work People v. Vasquez, 84 P.3d 1019 (Colo. 2004).  
CO Trevon Washington B/M 2M 1? 69, 71 between 3 and 5 of the following: communication, health and safety, leisure, self-direction, social    
FL Charles Michael Kight W/M B/M 67, 68   State agreed to life after their expert found him MR.  
FL Charlie Thompson B/M M & F     plea to life in exchange for dropping guilt phase pc claims… not sure if formal mr finding  
FL Kenneth Leroy Watson B/M F 69, 73      
GA Johnny Lee Gates B/M       case settled during MR hearing to jury because of a witness's outburst  
IL Emerald Ausby B/M          
IN Gregory Rouster B/M M & F     Rastafari v. State, Lake Superior Court case no. 2CR-133-886-531 (June 16, 2003 order of the post-conviction court) aka Gamba Rastafari
LA Joseph Carmouch M   borderline range of 70-80   remand, state and defense doctors agreed so done by consent Remanded by State v. Carmouche, 01-0405 (La. 09/25/03); 872 So. 2d 1020, Atkins relief granted by 15th Judicial District Court, Parish of Acadia, Honorable Edward Rubin, Judge
LA Thomas Deboue B/M B/M & B/F 65   MDLA #01-464. Court ruled on the papers (more or less negotiated, i.e., state declared it would let the ct rule on the petition without hearing) Nick Trenticosta was lawyer. . . I believe Judge Ginger Berrigan granted Atkins relief
LA Richard Hobley B/M B/M 55 not established on retrial, convinced DA not to seek death due to MR  
LA Tyrone Lindsey B/M W/F 50-60 or 65 not established 542 So.2d 886 (La 1989)  
LA Eddie Mitchell M   80?   post-conviction, judge summarily ruled based on earlier proceedings and testing put in the record Relief granted in PCR by 14th JDC. I believe Eddie was the first post-Atkins MR hearing in La.
LA Herbert Welcome B/M B/M 50-57   clemency by governor following pardon board hearing and recommendation to commute death.  
LA Corey Williams B/M M 65-68 multiple adaptive behavior deficits in the moderate to severe range (less than 1st percentile) State v. Corey Williams (No. 193,258 Caddo Parish, First Jud. Dist. Ct. La. Feb. 21, 2004).  
MO Alis Johns W/M M 61-84 communication, daily living, and socialization Johns v. State, No. CV501-0389CC (Mo Cir. Ct. July 17, 2003).  
MO Steven W. Parkus W/M W/M 65-82 personal relationships, self care, employment, academic, social In re Parkus, 219 S.W.3d 250 (Mo. 2007) (en banc)  
MS Jimmie (James) Mack B/M M 61-73 All skills, Vineland showed deficits in MR range Mack v. State, No. 7344 (order of circuit court post-conviction)  
MS Howard Neal W/M 2F        
MS Mack Wells B/M M     Wells v. State, 903 So.2d 739 (Miss., 2005) (en banc).  
NC Melanie Anderson W/F W/F 75, 69, 62, 67 functional academics State v. Anderson, 94 CRS 5669, 95 CVR 887 (N.C. Gen. Ct. Justice Superior Ct. Div. July, 29, 2003).  
NC Anthony Bone B/M W 69, 63, 72 social skills, communication, functional academics State v. Bone, 97 CRS 73219 (N.C. Gen. Ct. Justice Superior Ct. Div. January 28, 2004).  
NC Leon Brown M F 30, 51, low 50s, 57 all skills areas State v. Brown, No. 93 CRS 3374-75 (N.C. Gen. Ct. Justice Superior Ct. Div. March 24, 2004).  
NC Chamberlin, Jr. M   60s unlisted State v. Chamberlin, Jr., No. 01-CRS-7175-78, 54889 (N.C. Gen. Ct. Justice Superior Ct. Div. Jan. 14, 2004).  
NC Renwick Gibbs B/M 3B 51, 57 unlisted State of North Carolina v. Gibbs, No. 91-CRS-4082 (Gen. Ct., Jun 31, 2004).  
NC Anthony Hipps B/M W 60, 68 social skills, functional academics, communication, work, self-care State of North Carolina v. Hipps. Rowan county Superior Court  
NC Russell Holden B/M B/F 70 and below Communication, social skills, self-direction, functional academics, work skills State of North Carolina v. Russell Holden Citation for Order was unpublished, N.C. Supreme Court Case available at State v. Holden, 488 S.E.2d 514 (N.C.,1997).  
NC Jonathan Leeper B/M 2B/M 64, 70 functional academics, communication, social skills, self-care, self-direction, and work skills State of North Carolina v. Leeper (Citation for Order was unpublished, N.C. Supreme Court Case available at State v. Leeper, 565 S.E.2d 1 (N.C., 2002). State v. Leeper, No. 98 CRS 10902-03 (N.C. Gen. Ct. Justice Superior Ct. Div. May 11, 2004).  
NC Robert McClain B/M B/M 70, 65, 15, 70, 64   State v. McClain, 94 CRS 30181 (N.C. Gen. Ct. Justice Superior Ct. Div. Dec. 11, 2002). State v. McClain, 610 S.E.2d 783 (N.C.App., 2005).  
NC Elton Ozell McLaughlin B/M B 70, 72, 71, 76 functional academics, communication, social skills On habeas review  
NC Lorenza Norwood B/M Middle Eastern 67, 69, 64   State v. Norwood, 93 CRS 5239, 5251 (N.C Gen. Ct. Justice Superior Ct. Div. Sept. 20, 2003).  
NC Dwight Robinson B/M W 69, 56 functional academics, home living State v. Robinson, 86 CRS 25054 (N.C Gen. Ct. Justice Superior Ct. Div. Nov. 7, 2003  
NC Sherman Skipper W/M W 69 communication, self-care, home living, social skills, community use, self-direction, health and safety, functional academics, work    
NC Johnnie Spruill B/M B 68, 65, 73/75, 55 functional academics, health and safety, self-direction, home living, social skills State v. Spruill, No. 404A92-5 (Supreme Court of North Carolina, 7/26/04).  
NC Tony Staten B/M M 61, 68 functional academics, communication, social skills, health and safety    
NC Larry Williams B/M 2W 69, 62, 75 5 areas State of North Carolina (Gaston County) v Larry Darnell Williams, General Court of Justice, Superior Court Division, 79-CRS-1867, -1241  
NV Jimmy Todd (JT) Kirksey B/M M     Trial court concluded MR, in a post-conviction proceeding  
NY Craig Godineaux BH/M       DA agreed not to seek DP in exchange for a LWOP plea  
OH Derrick L. Evans B/M 2B     CR-87-216710-C  
OH Derryl Gumm W/M W 73, 70, 71, 79, 70, 67 (67 and 79 not included in analysis) all three areas, although those are most clearly demonstrated in the areas of practical and conceptual adaptive skills State v. Gumm, 169 Ohio App. 3d 650 (2006)  
OH Kevin Yarbrough B/M W 69 functional academics, social skills, communication   aka Robert Lee Johnson
OK Richard Eugene Hammon B/M M     Hammon v. State, 2004 WL 352200 (Okla. Crim. App. Feb. 26, 2004).  
OK Robert Lambert W/M W/M & W/F     71 P3d 30 (Okl.Cr. 2003) (rem for jury trial) MODIFIED TO LWOP 126 P3d 646, 2005 OK CR 26 (12/7/05) cd - US -, 127 SC 42, 166 LEd2d 251 (10/2/06)  
OK Barney Marshall NA/M NA 50 on OLMAT academics PCD-2002-981  
OK Gilberto Martinez H/M 2H/F 62-63   80 P.3d 142 (2003).  
OK Darrin Pickens B/M W/F     74 P3d 601 (7/23/03) (rem for jury trial) MODIFIED TO LWOP 126 P3d 612 (12/7/05) cd - US -, 127 SC 42, 166 LEd2d 251 (10/2/06).  
OK Max Salazar NA/M W/F     84 P3d 764 (2004) (review procedures) MODIFIED TO LWOP 126 P3d 625, 2005 OK CR 24 (12/7/05) cd - US -, 127 SC 42, 166 LEd2d 251 (10/2/06). The Court of Criminal Appeals did not necessarily find him to be mr, although there is an argument they came close.
OK Rocky Snow W/M W/F 68   87 P3d 626 (2004).  
PA Karl Chambers W/M F     granted resentencing pretrial Atkins relief  
PA Jose DeJesus M M 61 social skills, functional adacemic skills, home and personal living    
PA Arthur Faulkner B/M F & W/F     Faulkner v. Horn, NO. 99-5986 (E.D. Pa. July 2, 2002). government stipulated to MR in plea
PA Jerome Gibson B/M M 70-75 or below functional academic skills, self-direction, and work skills Commonwealth v. Gibson, 925 A.2d 167 (2007).  
PA Marty Graham W/M   63, 66, 75   Commonwealth v. Graham, No.’s 3948, et seq. CD 1987 (Pa. Ct. Common Pleas, Dec. 18, 2003).  
PA Peter Karenbauer W/M F 68   Commonwealth v. Karenbauer, No. 642 of 1995, CR. (Pa. Sept. 23, 2002). the state's expert at trial admitted on cross that Karenbauer was MR so when Atkins came down during the state post conviction proceeding he was resentenced without argument from the state
PA Joseph D. Miller W/M 2F 66, 67, 55, 59, 55, 78, 81   Commonwealth v. Miller, 2003 WL 23278215 (Pa.Ct. Common Pleas June 30, 2003).  
PA Simon Pirela H/M M 57, 67/55, (84/83 on the EIWA that translates to a low 60s on the WAIS) communication, functional academics   aka Salvador Morales
PA Nathan Scott B/M F        
PA Raymond Whitney B/M          
SC Thomas Lee Davis M   57 Memory/orientation, managing money, managing home and transportation, home and safety, and social adjustment Proposed order, expert report  
SC Ricky George B/M M 66, 69 communication, self-care, safety, social skills, home-living, work, self-care, daily-living    
SC Johnny Ringo Pearson B/M B/F 62, 72, 70, 65, 72, 69, 64, 65, 64 (mean of 67 and median of 65) functional academics, work, communication, home living, health and safety, self direction, social skills, community use, leisure, self care    
TN Eddie Harris W/M W/M & W/F 64 "auditory processing, simple concentration, mental flexibility, language
problems"
Remand, state and defense doctors agreed so done by consent  
TX Walter Bell B/M W/F & W/M     Ex Parte Bell, 152 S.W.3d 103 (Tex.Crim.App. 2004) (per curiam). Ex Parte Walter Bell, AP-75, 038 (Texas Ct. Crim. App., Nov. 10, 2004). Ex parte Bell, No. AP-75,038 (Tex. Crim. App. Nov. 11, 2004).  
TX Darrell Carr B/M H/F (pregnant)     Ex parte Carr, No. AP-75,627 (Tex. Crim. App. Feb. 28, 2007).  
TX David DeBlanc B/M W/M     Ex parte DeBlanc, AP-75,113 (Tex. Crim. App. Mar. 16, 2005).  
TX Doil Lane W/M H/F     http://www.governor.state.tx.us/divisions/press/pressreleases/PressRelea...  
TX Willie Mack Modden B/M W/F 64, 58   Ex parte Modden, 147 S.W.3d 293 (Tex. Crim. App. 2004). Ex Parte Modden, No. 74,715 (Tex. Crim. App. April 21, 2004).  
TX Eric Lynn Moore M F 72 conceptual and social skills Moore v. Dretke, 2005 WL 1606437 (E.D.Tex. Jul. 1, 2005).  
TX Jose Alfredo Rivera M M 64, 68, (70, 85, 92, and 80 given less weight) self-care, social skills, home living, and functional academics Rivera v. Quarterman, 2007 WL 3027070 (5th Cir. 2007).  
TX Demetrius Simms B/M B/F     Ex parte Simms, No. AP-75,625 (Tex. Crim. App. Feb. 28, 2007).  
TX Robert Smith B/M W/M     http://www.governor.state.tx.us/divisions/press/pressreleases/PressRelea...  
TX Exzavier Lamont Stevenson B/M 2M     Ex parte Stevenson, No. AP-75,639 (Tex. Crim. App. Mar. 21, 2007).  
TX Alberto Valdez H/M W/M     Ex parte Valdez, No. 75,039 (Tex. Crim. App. Nov. 11, 1004). Ex Parte Alberto Valdez, AP-75, 039 (Texas Ct. Crim. App., Nov. 10, 2004).  
TX Gregory van Alstyne M M 69, 69, 56   Ex Parte Gregory van Alstyne, Trial Crt No. 30,941-02-B, CCA No. 33,801-02; 2007 WL 3375149  

 


Additional cases from the Atkins Project of Cornell University:

AL - ____ Thomas - Thomas v. Allen, 607 F.3d 749 (11th Cir. 2010)
AZ - ____ Canez - State v. Canez, 2007 WL 5595966 (Ariz. App. Div. 2007). ,State v. Canez, 74 P.3d 932 (Ariz.     2003) (en banc) (state withdrew request for death penalty)
AR - ____ Simpson - Simpson v. Norris, 2009 WL 2985837 (E.D. Ark. Sept. 16, 2009)
IN - Howard Allen - Allen v. Wilson, 2012 WL 2577492 (S.D.Ind., 2012)
LA - ____ Brumfield - Brumfield v. Cain, 2012 WL 602163 (M.D. La., February 23, 2012)
MS - Lawrence Branch - Branch v. Epps, 2011 WL 6026516 (N.D.Miss. 2011)
MS - William Wiley - Wiley v. Epps, 625 F.3d 199 (5th Cir. 2010)
MS - ____ Hughes - Hughes v. Epps, 694 F. Supp. 2d 533 (N.D. Miss. 2010)
MS - ____ Wiley - Wiley v. Epps, 668 F. Supp. 2d 848 (N.D. Miss. 2009)
MO - ____ Lyons - State ex rel. Lyons v. Lombardi, 303 S.W.3d 523 (Mo. 2010)
NC - ____ Nicholson - Nicholson v. Branker, 739 F. Supp. 2d 839 (E.D.N.C. 2010)
OH - Michael Bies - Bobby v. Bies, 129 S.Ct. 2145 (2009) (state later conceded Bies' m.r.)
OH - ____ White - State v. White, 885 N.E.2d 905 (Ohio 2008)
TX - ____ Cockrell - Ex parte Cockrell, 2009 WL 1636528 (Tex. Crim. App. 2009)., Ex parte Cockrell, 2008         WL 4417282 (Tex. Crim. App. 2008)., Ex parte Cockrell, 2005 WL 1349723 (Tex. Crim. App. 2005)
VA - Leon Winston - Winston v. Pearson, 683 F.3d 489, 2012 WL 2369481 (4th Cir. 2012)

 

 Return to Intellectual Disability

 

 

 


Read More 21,473 reads
Mississippi Preparing to Execute Man Despite Strong Evidence of Mental Retardation

Earl Berry is scheduled to be executed on May 21 in Mississippi, despite evidence that he has mental retardation. Judicial review of this evidence has been denied because his former lawyers failed to file the evidence in a timely fashion. This would be the second execution since the U.S. Supreme Court approved Kentucky's method of lethal injection on April 16. Last month, a psychologist concluded that Berry had an IQ of 75 or below and “significantly sub-average intellectual functioning and … meets the criteria to be classified as mentally retarded.” The U.S. Supreme Court banned execution of those with mental retardation in Atkins v. Virginia (2002).
Earl BerryAffidavits describe Berry’s slow development, head injuries sustained as a child, multiple suicide attempts, and that, even as an adult, he was never able to live independently. When Berry was discharged from a Mississippi prison hospital at 25, his release followed a suicide attempt and he was diagnosed with “suicidal gestures/mentally retarded.” During his school years, Berry’s IQ was tested at 72. In 1992, a psychologist also testified that Berry suffered from paranoid schizophrenia.


Read More 3,533 reads
Historic Death Penalty Case from Texas Finally Ends with Life Sentence

A mentally retarded man in Texas accepted a life sentence for a murder that occurred over 28 years ago. Johnny Paul Penry was originally sentenced to death for the sexual assault and murder of Pamela Mosley Carpenter, a relative of a professional football star. Penry's death sentence was overturned twice by the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to the plea agreement on February 15, 2008, the prosecution was insisting on a fourth capital sentencing hearing for Penry.

In 1989, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that although the execution of the mentally retarded was not constitutionally banned, the law in Texas did not give mentally retarded defendants sufficient protection to ensure that their disability was considered as a mitigating factor (Penry v. Lynaugh). Penry was again sentenced to death and again the sentence was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2001 (Penry v. Johnson). In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court in Atkins v. Virginia held that the execution of defendants with mental retardation was unconstitutional. Nevertheless, Texas continued to seek a death sentence for Penry, whose IQ has been measured between 50 and 63, well into the mental retardation range. In 2005, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals overturned Penry's latest death sentence.


Read More 3,818 reads
INNOCENCE: Kennedy Brewer Exonerated from Death Row in Mississippi through DNA Testing

Kennedy Brewer, who spent almost 15 years on Mississippi’s death row for the 1992 murder and rape of his girlfriend’s 3-year-old daughter, has been exonerated of the charges, and another man, Justin Johnson, has been arrested for the same crime. A 2001 investigation by the Innocence Project found that the semen on the victim’s body did not match Brewer’s DNA, but did match Johnson’s. Johnson was a suspect early in the case, and his blood was collected and preserved in the Mississippi State Crime Laboratory for more than 10 years.

Last year, Brewer was released on bond, pending a new trial after the Innocence Project and his attorney pushed for an appeal based upon the DNA test results. Despite the results of the 2001 DNA testing, the Mississippi Supreme Court denied Brewer’s request for a new trial in 2002. Brewer eventually won a retrial from a Lowndes County judge. According to the New York Times, District Attorney Ben Creekmore of Oxford, Mississippi, who took over the case when the previous D.A. recused himself, "is preparing to file a motion dismissing all charges against Mr. Brewer."


Read More 5,654 reads

Pages