Texas to unconstitutionally execute mentally disabled man next week
August 4, 2012
It is unconstitutional to execute the mentally retarded. So Marvin Wilson, a Texas inmate scheduled to be executed next Tuesday, should not constitutionally face the death penalty. As a court-appointed psychologist’s report details, Wilson is mentally retarded:
[Wilson] required repeated instruction for doing even simple things, such as cutting the grass. Mr. Kelly also noted that Marvin Wilson had significant reading problems. He had a difficult time keeping up when playing football. He could never understand how to run even simple plays. Mr. Kelly also noted that Mr. Wilson seemed to have a difficult time dressing himself properly. He could not color coordinate and sometimes wore mismatched socks. He. also would wear his belt so tightly that it would “almost cut of his circulation”. Frequently his shirt was buttoned incorrectly. Some of these problems continued even into adolescence. Mr. Kelly indicated that when Mr. Wilson was younger he tried to get some simple jobs involving things like sweeping the floors at a local store. However, he would lose the jobs quickly because he wasn’t “fast enough”. Mr. Kelly specifically recalled Mr. Wilson working at Wizard Car Wash. Even though he was assigned the simple duty of working at the drying station, he apparently was fired after a few days because of his inability to do the job. Mr. Kelly also noted that Mr. Wilson exhibited difficulty doing any kind of task that required logic or thinking. He never learned how to count money correctly until he was older… .
It is my opinion that the WAIS -III is the most valid indicator of adult intelligence now in current usage. On the WAIS-III Mr. Wilson earned a Verbal I.Q. of 61, a Performance I.Q. of 68, and the Full Scale I.Q. of 61. This places him within the mildly retarded range of intellectual ability and below the 1st percentile.
Texas hopes to exploit a potential loophole in the Supreme Court’s decision declaring executions of the mentally retarded unconstitutional in order to move forward with this execution. Although the Court’s decision in Atkins v. Virginia references the clinical definition of mental retardation — a person with an IQ of 70 or less who demonstrated “significantly subaverage intellectual functioning” before the age of 18 is generally considered mentally retarded — it also left “to the State[s] the task of developing appropriate ways to enforce the constitutional restriction upon [their] execution of sentences.” So Texas has designed its own, narrow definition of mental retardation that bears little resemblance to the one used by scientists and clinicians. A petition is currently pending in the Supreme Court seeking to close this loophole and save Wilson’s life.
This kind of zealous appetite for the death penalty is nothing new in Texas. One third of all modern U.S. executions take place in the Lone Star State.