Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Murderer with IQ of 61 to be lowest ever executed

BULLETIN: Marvin Wilson cried out to his family as he expired in the Texas death chamber at 6:27 p.m. 

 "Give mom a hug for me and tell her that I love her," Wilson said. "Take me home, Jesus. Take me home, Lord," he continued. "I ain't left yet, must be a miracle. I am a miracle."

Fatal injection tonight if court doesn't act

Huntsville – Jerry Williams must have known he was in grave danger on that November day in 1992 when Marvin Wilson and another man began to menace him outside a Beaumont convenience store.

He had earlier informed police that Mr. Wilson had a large quantity of cocaine. When they raided his residence, they found 24 grams of the substance.

In the underworld of hard drugs, that's a killing offense on the streets.

And so, Marvin Wilson and another party to the offense, Andrew Lewis, beat the informant and abducted him. A short time later, witnesses heard a gunshot.

Police found Jerry Williams' nude body, clad only in socks, with gunshot wounds inflicted at close range to his head and neck.

If the U.S. Supreme Court does not order a stay, Mr. Wilson will succumb to lethal injection tonight after lengthy appeals in which his lawyers have argued that his execution will constitute cruel and unusual punishment.

In a single test, he scored well below the threshold IQ score of 70 that suggests mental retardation. He racked up a 61 in a 2004 test administered and scored by an inexperienced intern, though lawyers for the state point out that he has scored higher than 70 in many other tests.

At the time of his arrest for cocaine possession, Mr. Wilson had been released on bond on a robbery charge after serving a parole term following 4 years served in prison on a 20-year sentence for robbery. 

At his trial, the wife of his accomplice, Mr. Lewis, testified that Mr. Wilson admitted his guilt in the killing of Mr. Williams. She testified that Mr. Wilson said in the presence of herself, his wife, and Mr. Lewis, “Don't be mad at Andrew (Lewis) because Andrew did not do it. I did it.”

He still freely admits his guilt. He recently told a newsman, “Now I am not willing to try and convince anyone that I'm not guilty as charged because I realize that if I had not been selling crack then I wouldn't have been in the position to be set up as I have been.”

It all comes down to a Supreme Court decision, Atkins v. Virginia, in which the Court held that executing people with mental disability constitutes a violation of the 8th Amendment proscription against cruel and unusual punishment.

Texas legislators failed to vote out a new capital murder law that would conform to the Supreme Court holding. The preferred to let the Court of Criminal Appeals propose a set of “factors” that would determine retardation.

One of these includes a bizarre reference to the fictional character Lennie, a man so severely retarded he had not the cognitive ability to perceive that his rough treatment petting small creatures such as mice, rabbits, and puppies would kill them.

In the novella and stage play written by Nobel literary Laureate John Steinbeck, Lennie's traveling companion executes him after telling him to keep looking across the river, into the future, following a serial incident of the rough treatment of a woman. In a prepared statement, Mr. Steinbeck's son Thomas, said, “I am deeply troubled by today's scheduled execution of Marvin Wilson. “I had no idea that the great state of Texas would use a fictional character that my father created to make a point about human loyalty and dedication...as a benchmark to identify whether defendants with intellectual disability should live or die.”

In an unrelated case, the Texas appeals court held that “most Texas citizens would agree that Steinbeck's Lennie should, by virtue of his lack of reasoning ability and adaptive skills, be exempt from execution. But does a consensus of Texas citizens agree that all persons who might legitimately qualify for assistance under the social services definition of mental retardation be exempt from an otherwise constitutional penalty.”

Edward Marshall, an assistant Texas atorney general, told justices, “Wilson is a savvy, street-wise drug dealer and thief who exhibited skills surpassing those of a mentally retarded person from a young age.” Mr. Wilson attended special education classes, receiving “social promotions” before he dropped out permanently in the 10th grade.

The prosecutor who proved to jurors that Mr. Wilson acted in retaliation told newsmen, “Marvin had a motive to murder this man.

“He (Williams) was responsible for Marvin getting a couple of drug indictments,” said Ed Shettle, an assistant District Attorney from Beaumont.

Though proof of a motive is not required for jurors to return a verdict of guilty in a murder charge, retaliation is one of many special circumstances that warrant a charge of capital murder.

The probability that an offender so convicted will pose a continuing threat to society is the first of three conditions precedent required for jurors to assess a penalty of death by lethal injection. Jurors are also asked if they find any mitigating factors or think there is evidence that a sentence of life without the possibility of parole would be better suited.

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