Wednesday, August 08, 2012

USA: a mentally retarded person executed in Texas despite protests

Marvin Wilson, African American convicted of murder in 1998, was finally executed Tuesday in Texas. He had a mental age of seven years. In the afternoon, the Supreme Court of the United States rejected a last resort by his lawyers.
This African American, 54, who was convicted in 1998 for a murder committed in 1992, was pronounced dead by lethal injection at 18:27 local time.

Several organizations defending human rights had protested this execution. Among them, Amnesty International said that the Supreme Court decision not to postpone the execution was "particularly disturbing". In 2004, Marvin Wilson had been diagnosed as mildly mentally retarded. Amnesty said that he had an IQ of 61.

Before his execution, he addressed members of his family, assuring them he loved them. "Take me home, Jesus, take me home, Lord," he also said, according to comments reported to AFP by a spokesman for the Prison Services of Texas. Then, turning again to his family, he concluded: "I love you all. I'm ready."

In 2002, the Supreme Court of the United States prohibited the execution of mentally retarded convicts who, because their disability, "would run the risk of wrongful execution". But the Court has never given a precise definition of mental retardation, leaving each state to set requirements to determine the level of disability intended by the prohibition. According to the criteria in force in Texas, Marvin Wilson did not suffer from mental disability.

Already on July 18 , Yokamon Hearn, a Black American, 34, was executed in Texas, despite evidence of mental disorder since childhood, and many protests. On July 23, however, the execution of a condemned man also suffering from a mental disorder was suspended in Georgia (southeast), two hours before the fatal time. The suspension was granted not because of mental disorder but on account of a technicality relating to a change in the procedure of lethal injection. US justice appreciates the niceties of technical efficiency rather than arguments relating to humanity.

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