Skip to main content

Marvin Wilson, mentally retarded guy on Texas death row
Marvin Wilson may have less than 24 hours to live.
Ever more nations have abandoned the barbaric death penalty. Perhaps, eventually, the 33 U.S. states still executing people will come around, too. But even in a nation where 1,301 individuals have been executed since 1976 and another 3,170 are in the queue, it is considered uncivilized to execute the mentally retarded.

Except in Texas.

Because in Texas, officialdumb likes executing people. Under Gov. Rick Perry, 244 individuals have been injected with lethal chemicals. And the mental condition of those executed makes no never mind to the guy signing the order, the criminal-injustice system assigning the sentence or the authorities carrying it out.

So, instead of following the clear spirit of the 6-3 ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court in Atkins v. Virginia, Texas plans to stick the needle in Marvin Wilson's arm Tuesday. He has a certified IQ of 61. He has been on death row for 18 years for the 1992 slaying of Jerry Robert Williams.

Advocates hope the Supreme Court chooses to put a stay on Wilson's execution and review his case in light of Atkins.

Apparently still believing in the good faith behavior of the state courts despite all they have witnessed to the contrary, the six members of the Supreme Court majority in that 2001 case left it up to states to come up with a means of determining whether a convicted murderer is faking retardation.

(Continue reading below the fold.)

In a profoundly uncivilized dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia argued, in effect, for a kill-'em-all-let-god-sort-'em-out approach. Because, you see, it would be too difficult to figure out who is gaming the system and who is truly retarded. Texas just winged it. Instead of setting forth an objective test, the courts threw the issue into the hands of judges and juries on a case-by-case basis. Paul Campos writes:

Marvin Wilson has the mental development of the average first-grader. He sucked his thumb into adulthood; he cannot use a phone book; and he doesn’t understand what a bank account is. As a child he would sometimes clamp his belt so tightly that he would cut off blood circulation. He couldn’t figure out how to use simple toys such as tops and marbles, and he was tormented by other children, who called him names like “dummy” and “retard.”

The most shocking aspect of this case is that the state of Texas has never even bothered to present any evidence contesting the defense’s claim that Wilson is mentally retarded. The uncontested evidence—presented by a court-appointed neuropsychologist at a hearing conveyed for the purpose of determining Wilson’s mental capacity—is that Wilson has an IQ below the first percentile, and has trouble performing even the simplest tasks without help. In other words he easily meets the standard clinical definition of mental retardation, which the Supreme Court used as the basis of its [...] decision.

But not in Texas. Retarded or not, he's going down. Which should come as no shock in a state where defendants whose attorneys literally fell asleep in court have been executed, where the innocent have been executed, where the innocent have been nearly executed, where the mentally ill have been executed, where those who committed their crimes as juveniles have been executed.

Errol Morris is the documentary film-maker whose movie The Thin Blue Line was credited by Randall Adams for leading to the overturning of his conviction in the slaying of a police officer in Texas. Adams, who died in 2010, served 12 years in prison, several of them on death row before he was released in 1989. Says Morris:

One of the lessons about the Adams case is that, if it had happened now instead of 1988, when the movie came out, Randall Adams would in all likelihood have been executed. Even if he hadn't been executed, he wouldn't have gotten out of prison. Supreme Court cases in the intervening years have made it much, much more difficult to appeal death penalty convictions and life imprisonment convictions.
Nobody doubts Marvin Wilson did the crime. The question in his case is wholly different. The Court majority in Atkins stated, in the words of Justice J.P Stevens:
"Construing and applying the Eighth Amendment in the light of our 'evolving standards of decency,' we therefore conclude that such punishment is excessive and that the Constitution 'places a substantive restriction on the State's power to take the life' of a mentally retarded offender."
If the court chooses not to review the case of Marvin Wilson, as numerous advocates and The New York Times editorial aboard has urged, it has essentially given its imprimatur to Justice Scalia's dissent and the Texas officials who seem to relish killing people, even those with the mental age of six-year-olds. You have to wonder what their own mental age is.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Mon Aug 06, 2012 at 01:56 PM PDT.

Also republished by Team DFH, Abolish the Death Penalty, and Daily Kos.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

David Nir, a gilas girl, JekyllnHyde, Trix, TrueBlueMajority, mimi, Shockwave, billlaurelMD, ChicDemago, rhubarb, eeff, Sandy on Signal, grover, dpc, 88kathy, roses, jalbert, Iberian, navajo, TexDem, Miss Jones, pat bunny, i dont get it, yet another liberal, Marianne Benz, lyvwyr101, vacantlook, lavaughn, marina, Tinfoil Hat, OpherGopher, sc kitty, Laurence Lewis, ladybug53, skyounkin, blue jersey mom, coolbreeze, turdraker, martini, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Clytemnestra, tonyahky, kestrel9000, KenBee, Loonesta, blueoasis, birdbrain64, gpoutney, JVolvo, justiceputnam, CA Nana, doingbusinessas, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, shaharazade, Friend of the court, pale cold, One Pissed Off Liberal, old wobbly, timewarp, SpecialKinFlag, camlbacker, Dartagnan, gloriana, wildweasels, artisan, jnhobbs, gchaucer2, Mr Stagger Lee, Cassandra Waites, petulans, luckylizard, 59stevenm, shortgirl, McGahee220, greengemini, WakeUpNeo, indres, NWTerriD, winkk, Larsstephens, commonmass, FogCityJohn, roadbear, gramofsam1, TimmyB, Lady Libertine, SoCalHobbit, laserhaas, ericlewis0, cany, no way lack of brain, angstall, slowbutsure, BlueJessamine, InRainShadow, OhioNatureMom, Alice Olson, awsdirector, BarackStarObama, worldlotus, VTCC73, Democrats Ramshield, jolux, stlsophos, allergywoman, Monsieur Georges, YaNevaNo, ridemybike, stormicats, Flying Goat, teachered, IndieGuy, Eric Nelson, David54, a2nite, Horace Boothroyd III, stellaluna, This old man, belinda ridgewood, zqxj, bewareofme, doroma, wxorknot, Vote4Obamain2012, avsp, databob, Near Miss, SwedishJewfish, Late Again, Tim DeLaney, Setsuna Mudo, entrelac, Jollie Ollie Orange, lina, northerntier, Smoh, blue91, bleach

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site