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Excerpt: "'The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice Scalia and by him referred to the Court is denied,' the court said in an order early on Tuesday evening."

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. (Lindsay Crisler/SIPA Newsroom)
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. (Lindsay Crisler/SIPA Newsroom)

Scalia Denies Stay, Texas Executes Mentally Retarded Man

By Terry Baynes, Jonathan Stempel

08 August12


arvin Wilson, 54, had challenged his execution as unconstitutional under the 2002 decision Atkins v. Virginia, which banned executing mentally retarded people but gave states some discretion in deciding who qualified for protection.

The defendant was convicted of murder for the November 1992 killing of a 21-year-old police drug informant, Jerry Robert Williams, and was sentenced to death in April 1994.

"The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice Scalia and by him referred to the Court is denied," the court said in an order early on Tuesday evening.

Justice Antonin Scalia handles emergency appeals from the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which oversees Texas.

Wilson's IQ has been measured as low as 61, below the 70 level sometimes used to delineate mental retardation.

Texas argued that the test pegging Wilson's IQ at 61 was conducted by an inexperienced intern, and that several other tests showed an IQ above 70.

The state also said it had discretion under Atkins v. Virginia to consider seven factors in determining whether someone like Wilson should be executed, including his ability to lead, his ability to lie, and whether family and friends thought he was mentally retarded.

Lawyers for Wilson countered that this allowed the state effectively to ignore the Atkins ruling by unreasonably applying "non-clinical" factors to disqualify Wilson from its protections.

Texas is the only state to use such a test, Wilson's lawyer, Lee Kovarsky said on Monday.

Wilson's lawyers also said Texas has apparently recently received evidence suggesting that Wilson was not the shooter, undermining assumptions that led to the death sentence. The Supreme Court did not address that issue.

In a separate death penalty case on appeal to the Supreme Court, Chester v. Thaler, the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities said Texas' test relies on false stereotypes and would count only the most severely incapacitated people as mentally retarded.

Texas has conducted roughly three out of every eight executions since 1976, when the Supreme Court allowed the practice to resume after a four-year hiatus, according to the Death Penalty Information Center.

Through July 19, Texas had conducted six of the 24 U.S. executions this year.

The case is Wilson v. Thaler, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-5349. your social media marketing partner


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+31 # WillD 2012-08-08 10:06
Being European, at first I thought this was a sick joke, but no, you really do execute people and even mentally disabled people and I just find this exemplary for everything which is wrong with this country, it's absolutely appalling.
+16 # Eldon J. Bloedorn 2012-08-08 12:59
Please allow me to add a comment. Canada now has a higher average household net worth than the U.S. Why? we "let" thugs like Dick Cheney and Bush erode our net worth with illegal wars. Now, we execute a possible mentally under privileged human and let Cheney and Bush go scott free after they murdered hundreds of thousands. And how many of our own soldiers are now "sleeping under the grass?"
+1 # jJLLA 2012-08-09 13:48
Yep we do...and it is usually conservatives who favor this kind of punishment - you know: "the party of life". Go figure.
+25 # reiverpacific 2012-08-08 10:51
Another notch against Scalia, the reincarnation of the Catholic monks who so delighted in torturing and burning "heretics" and anybody outside their narrowly proscribed definition of "Normal"!
And remember how Scabious-Scaly' s lapdog Clarence Thomas could have saved Troy Anthony Davis' life last year in Georgia but decline so to do?!
How can we begin recalls on these injustices and robed medievalists?
+10 # AndreM5 2012-08-08 10:59
Texas uber alles!
+13 # dkonstruction 2012-08-08 11:23
We just need to remember that this is not just something that is done by conservative Rethuglicans such as Scalia (who i agree is slime). During his first campaign for the presidency, Bill Clinton went back to Arkansas to preside over the execution of a man so mentally retarded that he did not even understand that his last meal was his last meal; was so retarded that even the conservative republican prosectutor said should not be put to death. Clinton does this (IMHO) to deflect media attention from the Jennifer Flowers "scandal" that was threatening to derail his bid for the Presidency. This act by a (soon to be) Democratic Candidate was every bit as disgusting (in some ways more so) than Scalia's denial in this case. So, yes, lambast Scalia, but this is one (of a number of) issues where for the most part the dems have been no better than the repubs.
+1 # ScottM58 2012-08-09 13:05
Whether or not Clinton did what he did to deflect media attention away from the Flowers case is open to debate,but the fact remains he did preside over the execution of a man so mentally incapacitated that he wanted to save his desert for "after the execution". Not one of Bill's best moments.
+9 # jwb110 2012-08-08 11:23
The blood is on their hands and Justice Scalia will face his maker with that little sin on the books. As for Texas, hell, it's Texas and there must be something in the water.
+6 # Phlippinout 2012-08-08 13:06
Thank heavens I dont live in that state! As soon as the market is better I need to get further north, there is evidentially something in the water all across the south and southwest.
+11 # cascadian12 2012-08-08 13:58
Aside from any moral qualms we should have over killing people, there are several major problems with the death penalty: Unequal protection of the law, so that Jared Loughner, who was mentally competent, and who killed 6 people and wounded 13, including a Congresswoman, pleads guilty to avoid the death penalty and gets life in prison instead.

But this Wilson guy has a low IQ, kills one person, though there is no physical evidence linking him to the crime, and gets the death penalty (Does anyone know his race? I couldn't find it).

The other major problem is putting innocent people to death, which happens quite regularly and is the reason some states have now banned the death penalty.

Another problem, raised by people commenting here, is that administration of the death penalty has too little to do with justice and too much to do with politics. For all these reasons, the death penalty should be banned once and for all.
+2 # jimbeama 2012-08-08 20:05
He was an African American man.
+1 # Regina 2012-08-08 23:09
Where was the Innocence Project -- or are they banned in Texas?
+2 # MJnevetS 2012-08-09 07:41
Quoting cascadian12:
(Does anyone know his race? I couldn't find it)
Wilson was black
+5 # CAMUS1111 2012-08-08 15:45
may Scalia rot in hell---and very soon.
+9 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-08-08 17:03
Barbarous state, barbarous courts. Did they send Scalia the ears & the tail?
+3 # janie1893 2012-08-09 00:03
Perhaps the human species is right in trying to annihilate itself. We certainly are not showing improvement in compassion as we evolve.
+4 # Dave45 2012-08-09 00:43
The US's only two remaining social distinctions are its capacity to entertain and its belief in its right to kill humans to further its own national purposes. These humans include not only innocent foreigners who stand in the US's way, but also American citizens who can arbitrarily be denied due process, imprisoned without being charged for a crime, or summarily assassinated by a president who is not required to explain the reason for his decision. In such a judicial and social context, a cold-blooded and senseless decision like that of Justice Scalia is hardly surprising. His decision will, though regrettably so, be soon forgotten.

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