A Texas man convicted of killing a police informant has been executed after the US supreme court rejected arguments that he was too mentally impaired to receive the death penalty.
Marvin Wilson, 54, was pronounced dead 14 minutes after his lethal injection began at the state prison in Huntsville on Tuesday night. Wilson’s attorneys had argued that he should have been exempt from capital punishment because of his low IQ.
Before the lethal drugs were administered Wilson smiled and raised his head from the death-chamber gurney, nodding to his three sisters and son as they watched through a window a few metres away. He told them several times that he loved them and asked that they give his mother “a big hug”.
“Y’all do understand that I came here a sinner and leaving a saint,” he said. “Take me home Jesus, take me home Lord, take me home Lord!”
In their appeal to the supreme court Wilson’s attorneys had pointed to a psychological test conducted in 2004 that put his IQ at 61, below the generally accepted minimum competency standard of 70. But lower courts agreed with state attorneys, who argued that Wilson’s claim was based on a single possibly faulty test and that his mental impairment claim was not supported by other tests and assessments over the years.
The supreme court denied his request for a stay of execution less than two hours before his lethal injection began. Lead defence attorney Lee Kovarsky said he was “gravely disappointed and saddened” by the ruling, calling it “outrageous that the state of Texas continues to utilise unscientific guidelines … to determine which citizens with intellectual disability are exempt from execution”.
Wilson was convicted of murdering 21-year-old Jerry Williams in November 1992. Wilson, a convicted robber, had been arrested for possessing cocaine and believed it was Williams who told police, the trial heard.
In Wilson’s supreme court appeal Kovarsky said Wilson’s language and math skills “never progressed beyond an elementary school level”, that he read and wrote below a second-grade level and that he was unable to manage his finances, pay bills or hold down a job.
The supreme court issued a ruling in 2002 outlawing the execution of the mentally impaired but left it to states to determine what constitutes mental impairment. Kovarsky argued that Texas had deliberately chosen a definition that made such an exemption “virtually unobtainable” in the state.R Soft Web Hosting