Missouri’s latest execution has sparked controversy, as the inmate’s IQ was only 73. Although his attorneys filed an appeal with the Supreme Court and a clemency petition with Governor Jay Nixon, Paul Goodwin was executed by lethal injection at 1:17 a.m. Wednesday morning.
In 2002, the Supreme Court determined that “executions of mentally retarded criminals are ‘cruel and unusual punishments’ prohibited by the Eighth Amendment.” However, they did not specify a valid method of defining or verifying intellectual disability. Therefore, each state has the freedom to legally define intellectual disability on their own terms.
Although many states use IQ scores to determine mental disability, Missouri defines mental retardation as “significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning which originates before age eighteen; and is associated with a significant impairment in adaptive behavior.”
As reported by the Washington Post, Goodwin’s attorneys and family argued that he was in fact intellectually disabled as defined by the Supreme Court and the state of Missouri.
Goodwin’s family explained that he was placed in special education classes in elementary school. As an adult, he relied on friends and family to complete daily tasks, including paying bills and purchasing groceries.
Paul Goodwin was convicted in the 1998 death of 63-year-old Joan Crotts. As reported by NBC News, Goodwin sexually assaulted his former neighbor, pushed her down a flight of stairs, and “beat her in the head with a hammer.”
During his trial, a psychologist testified that his IQ was not low enough to qualify as intellectually disabled.
As defined by the The Wechsler Intelligence Scales, an IQ of 73 is considered “low average,” whereas an IQ below 35 indicates “mild mental retardation.” In states that use IQ to legally define intellectual disability, the threshold generally falls between 65 and 70.
Despite the arguments from the inmate’s family and numerous legal appeals, the Missouri execution proceeded as planned. Paul Goodwin was pronounced dead at 1:25 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Attorney Jennifer Herndon said Goodwin was apologetic for his crime. However, “he’s so impaired he doesn’t really have the ability to show remorse like a normal adult would show.”
Joan Crotts’ daughter, Debbie Decker, said Goodwin did not deserve any mercy. Following the execution, she stated that she had “been sitting back waiting for this to happen.” She further explained she hopes “all [the] bad memories will go away,” and that she and her family will have a chance to heal.
[Image via The Daily Beast]