Texas Executes Inmate Despite Low IQ

Marvin Wilson

Texas Executes Inmate Despite Low IQ

Mentally impaired death row inmate Marvin Wilson, 54, was killed by lethal injection Tuesday night.

Published August 7, 2012

(Photo: AP Photo/Texas Department of Criminal Justice, File)

Death row inmate Marvin Wilson, 54, was killed by lethal injection Tuesday night in Huntsville, Texas, after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal to halt the execution on grounds that Wilson is not mentally competent.


Wilson was convicted of the 1992 murder of 21-year-old Jerry Williams, a police informant who allegedly implicated Wilson, resulting in an arrest on drug-charges. Witnesses say Wilson and another man, Andrew Lewis, beat Williams outside of a convenience store before kidnapping him. The next day, Williams’ body was found severely beaten with close-range gunshot wounds in the neck and the head.


However, advocates and attorneys for Wilson maintain that he did not meet standards of mentally competency to warrant a death sentence. According to affidavits from Wilson’s friends and family, as a child, he couldn’t use simple toys such as tops and marbles, and he continued to suck his thumb into adulthood.


Wilson’s fate was sealed Tuesday when the Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal by Wilson’s attorney’s to stay the execution on the grounds that execution of the mentally retarded is cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.


In 2004, an IQ test showed that Wilson’s IQ was 61 and he was diagnosed as having mild mental retardation. The generally accepted score for minimum competency 70. However, individual states have the freedom to develop unique standards for applying the prohibition on executing mentally challenged people, and in Texas, IQ is only a part of the criteria used.


Following the Supreme Court ruling, lead defense attorney Lee Kovarsky told the Associated Press that its, "outrageous that the state of Texas continues to utilize unscientific guidelines ... to determine which citizens with intellectual disability are exempt from execution."


Texas Assistant Attorney General Edward Marshall said that Wilson didn’t meet state criteria for not executing mentally impaired people because he "was manipulative and deceitful when it suited his interest."


"Considering Wilson's drug-dealing, street-gambler, criminal lifestyle since an early age, he was obviously competent at managing money, and not having a 9-to-5 job is no critical failure," Marshall said according to AP. "Wilson created schemes using a decoy to screen his thefts, hustled for jobs in the community, and orchestrated the execution of the snitch, demonstrating inventiveness, drive and leadership."


Wilson’s death marks the seventh execution in Texas this year.



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Written by Naeesa Aziz


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