August 7th, 2012
Despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2002 decision in Atkins v. Virginia which makes it unconstitutional to execute a person with an intellectual disability, today the state of Texas plans to execute Marvin Wilson, who has an IQ of only 61. Wilson was sentenced to death in 1992 for the shooting of Jerry Williams, a police informant who had provided information that led to Wilson’s arrest for drug possession. Wilson, now 54, struggled in school when he was younger and more recent assessments have found that he is very low functioning.
After the Atkins decision, most death penalty states have passed legislation to define what qualifies as intellectual disability, based on similar clinical standards as the Atkins court, but Texas has not. However, in 2004, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals (TCCA) created temporary guidelines. These consist of additional factors, not used by any other state, to test for disability. Wilson’s Atkins claim has been rejected under the TCCA guidelines because the court claimed there was no proof that anyone had officially diagnosed him with “mental retardation” before the age of 18, despite compelling evidence from his school records. Wilson’s attorneys have filed a petition with the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that their client is clearly mentally impaired and that Texas’ additional factors to test for intellectual disability are unconstitutional.
Please take action now by signing this petition to urge Texas officials to stop Marvin Wilson’s execution.
(Photo courtesy of presstv.com)