The state of Missouri is preparing to execute Cecil Clayton, a brain damaged man who has been on death row since the mid 1990s. The elderly inmate, who is now in his 70s, has a low IQ and suffers from mental illness — facts that have inspired media coverage as well as protest from those who are against the death penalty. Mother Jones reports that the convicted murderer is “psychotic and unable to function” yet the state of Missouri is in a rush to put him to death.
Cecil Clayton is in bad mental shape and it probably has a lot to do with the fact that he is missing part of his brain. A large portion of his frontal lobe was removed after a terrible accident over 40 years ago — long before he committed the murder he committed in 1996. Doctors had to remove up to 20 percent of his brain, leaving him brain damaged and with an IQ nearly 30 points below average. The Daily Mail has also pointed out that Clayton is Missouri’s oldest death row inmate at 74-years-old.
Close to 30 years after nearly 20 percent of the frontal lobe was removed from his brain, he committed the shooting death of Missouri police officer Christopher Castetter. It was a violent and impulsive crime that rocked the community of Barry County, Missouri. A family lost their loved one and a police force lost a partner. Clayton quickly became a convicted cop killer, and he was swiftly given the death penalty — regardless of his severely low IQ and the circumstances surrounding why his IQ was so low. Along with his attorney, his daughter Jena has spoken out against the upcoming execution — which is slated to take place on St. Patrick’s Day.
“Talking with him is like talking to a child. I do not believe we are the kind of country that executes the disabled.”
The frontal lobes of the human brain are responsible for numerous functions associated with spontaneity, impulse control, judgment and sexual behavior. In other words, it’s the “moral” center of the brain that is vulnerable to injury or, really, any kind of tinkering that may take place (such as surgical removal). The Centre for Neuro Skills states that damage to the frontal lobes can manifest itself in either a depressive state or a psychopathic state. Cecil Clayton has been described as a “brain-damaged psychopath” in more than one media report covering his case.
Do you think Missouri is right for choosing to execute Cecil Clayton? His attorney says that he is so mentally disabled that he questions whether or not the man even understands that he is going to die in just days. While he appears cognizant to the fact during conversations, he reportedly forgets shortly thereafter. This fact makes it hard to predict how he will react to his own execution when the day comes.
[Photo: Missouri Department of Corrections via Photobucket]