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In the Bible Belt, Christmas Isn’t Coming to Death Row

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When it comes to the death penalty, guilt or innocence shouldn’t really matter to Christians.  

NASHVILLE — Until August, Tennessee had not put a prisoner to death in nearly a decade. Last Thursday, it performed its third execution in four months.
This was not a surprising turn of events. In each case, recourse to the courts had been exhausted. In each case Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, declined to intervene, though there were many reasons to justify intervening. Billy Ray Irick suffered from psychotic breaks that raised profound doubts about his ability to distinguish right from wrong. Edmund Zagorksi’s behavior in prison was so exemplary that even the warden pleaded for his life. David Earl Miller also suffered from mental illness and was a survivor of child abuse so horrific that he tried to kill himself when he was 6 years old.
Questions about the humanity of Tennessee’s lethal-injection protocol were so pervasive following the execution of Mr. Irick that both Mr. Zagorski and M…

June execution stayed for East Texas man claiming intellectual disability

The Walls Unit, Huntsville, Texas
An East Texas killer scheduled for execution in June won a stay Tuesday after his lawyers argued he may be too intellectually disabled to put to death.

Clifton Lamar Williams - who has an IQ in the mid-60s - was scheduled to die on June 21 for a 2005 slaying, when he robbed 93-year-old Cecilia Schneider before stabbing her and setting her body on fire.

Last month, the 34-year-old's lawyers filed court papers begging for relief based on a groundbreaking 2017 Supreme Court decision that upended how Texas determines intellectual disability.

In that earlier decision, the high court ruled in favor of condemned Houston-area killer Bobby Moore, finding that the state had used a dated method of figuring out who qualified as too mentally disabled to execute.

Under a more up-to-date standard, Williams' attorneys argued he shouldn't be eligible for the state's harshest punishment.

On Tuesday, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals decided to bounce Williams' case back to a lower court for a hearing to consider the condemned killer's mental capacity.

"We remand this application to the convicting court for a live hearing to further develop evidence and make a new recommendation to this Court on the issue of intellectual disability," the court wrote. "Applicant's motion to stay his execution is granted."

Early this year, the case sparked a spat between the current legal team - Seth Kretzer and Wes Volberding - and another team of lawyers who wanted to get involved. The other legal team accused Kretzer and Volberding of abandoning their client when they didn't visit the condemned man for three years.

But a judge slapped down the request to knock the two Texas lawyers on the case, despite Williams' hand-written request for a new legal team.

The Lone Star State has executed six men this year. With Williams' death date off the calendar, Danny Bible - a Houston-area serial killer now in a wheelchair - is the next man scheduled to die.

Source: Houston Chronicle, Keri Blakinger, June 5, 2018


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"One is absolutely sickened, not by the crimes that the wicked have committed,
but by the punishments that the good have inflicted." -- Oscar Wilde

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