Ellis Statement on Wilson Execution, Offender with Mental Retardation

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On August 7, Texas plans to execute Marvin Wilson, a man who received a 61 on the standard Wechsler full-scale I.Q. test, a score placing him below the first percentile of human intelligence and far below the I.Q. threshold for mental retardation. Senator Rodney Ellis releases the following statement:

“I respectfully ask that the Court of Criminal Appeals grant a stay of execution for Mr. Marvin Wilson.

“In 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Atkins that the execution of offenders with mental retardation constitutes cruel and unusual punishment and violates the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution,” Ellis continued.

“Unfortunately, Texas continues to circumvent the U.S. Supreme Court’s categorical ban on the execution of offenders with mental retardation by developing its own set of determining factors for who will be exempt from execution. Not only are these Briseño factors not accepted by the scientific or medical community, they are not effective in excluding all offenders with mental retardation in accordance with Atkins. The Briseño factors have no basis in science, clearly fail under the law, and furthermore, violate any basic standard of justice and morality.

“Mr. Wilson’s case is a clear example of how Texas law continues to violate the Eighth Amendment of the United States Constitution. I first filed legislation in 1999 to ban the execution of offenders with mental retardation. In 2001, the bill made it through both chambers, only to be vetoed by Governor Perry. Next session, I will file legislation to ensure that Texas implements the scientifically and medically accepted clinical criteria for mental retardation set out by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, which was used by the U.S. Supreme Court in Atkins. Before we administer the ultimate penalty we must utilize standards to ensure we are in compliance with the Constitution of the United States.

“We do not execute children in the state of Texas, therefore we should not execute those who have the mental capacity of a child. The ultimate penalty should be reserved for those that can clearly comprehend why they are going to die.”

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