Adam Kelly Ward, 33, who was convicted of killing a city worker in 2005, was executed on Tuesday by lethal injection. Although he admitted to killing 47-year-old Michael Walker, Adam insists he was acting in self-defense. The case and the execution are now drawing national attention because Ward was reportedly mentally ill.
Ward claims he was simply defending himself when he emerged from his home and shot the 47-year-old code enforcement officer nine times with a.45 caliber handgun. According to reports, the men were arguing about large amounts of trash stockpiled outside the family home in Commerce, Texas.
The Ward family had been cited for multiple zoning and housing violations in the years preceding the deadly assault. On the day in question, Walker, who was tasked with citing Ward for violating a local statute, was on the property taking photos of trash piled in front of the family's home.
NY Daily News reports Michael Walker was unarmed at the time of the assault. However, Ward believed the enforcement officer was spying and taking pictures of he and his father.
During his 2007 trial, and subsequent appeals to avoid the death sentence, Adam Kelly Ward's attorneys presented evidence to prove he suffered from paranoia, delusions, and was bi-polar. They further argued that from the age of 15, Ward had interpreted neutral encounters as a direct threat or personal attack.
In their Supreme Court appeal, Ward's attorneys argued that laws preventing the execution of mentally impaired prisoners ought to apply in Ward's case and that it would be unconstitutional to execute a man who was clearly mentally ill.
RIP Adam Kelly Ward. Executed by State of Texas. Adam is 9th man executed by U.S. in 2016 #HaltAllExecutions pic.twitter.com/B52IUK71ITNewsweek reports the state and federal courts countered the claims, saying Adam's mental health issues were not pronounced enough to make him ineligible from execution. State Attorneys said Ward had an IQ as high as 123, and although he suffered bouts of mental illness, he was well aware of his behavior and surroundings.
— Sophie Caton (@sophiecaton1) March 23, 2016
Therefore, the Supreme Court refused to review his case and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals again rejected a clemency petition Friday.
In some states, prisoners with an IQ of 70 or below are exempt from capital punishment. However, other states base that decision on whether the defendant is aware they committed a crime punishable by death.
Adam Kelly Ward is set to be executed tonight. Case background v @heraldbanner: https://t.co/e6tNCy111g pic.twitter.com/3a1AmYqssdBefore his execution, Adam Kelly Ward thanked those who supported him and expressed love to his parents, who were not present. He also said he hoped something positive would come out of the tragedy.
— The Marshall Project (@MarshallProj) March 22, 2016
Before the injection was administered, Kelly again argued that the shooting was not a capital murder offense. His last words were "This is wrong what's happening. A lot of injustice is happening in all this. I'm sorry things didn't work out. May God forgive us all." He was pronounced dead at 6:34 p.m. CDT -- 12 minutes after he was administered the lethal injection.
Adam Kelly Ward became the ninth person to be executed in America in 2016 and the fifth person from the state of Texas -- which sentences more defendants to capital punishment than any other state in the U.S. Another Texas execution is scheduled for April 6.
Dick Walker, father of Michael Walker, said he forgave the man who killed his son.
"I will try to get my head straight that this part of my life is over with. Prayer and friendship have been important in these times. I live in an amazing town. Commerce is an amazing town."
Adam Ward's execution underlines one point of controversy surrounding capital punishment in the United States. In addition to protesting against the execution of those who are mentally ill, opponents of the death penalty argue that it is inhumane.
[Image via Mr. Nikon/Shutterstock]