Marvin Wilson, a 54 year old man with an IQ of 61, was executed by the State of Texas Tuesday night. The Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that it was cruel and unusual punishment to execute mentally retarded people, but his attorney’s were unable to convince State and Federal Courts that the ruling applied to Wilson.
As he was executed he cried to family members,
“Give mom a hug for me and tell her that I love her. Take me home, Jesus. Take me home, Lord. I ain’t left yet, must be a miracle. I am a miracle.”
Although Texas says it will not execute anyone with an IQ below 70, it argued that Wilson had a higher level of function than his attorneys claimed. In the end the Supreme Court agreed with the State.
Lee Kovarsky, Wilson’s attorney and a law professor at the University of Maryland said,
“We are gravely disappointed and profoundly saddened that the United States Supreme Court has refused to intervene,”
Based on the testimony of his wife, Wilson was convicted of shooting and killing a man over drugs. His attorneys claimed that Wilson was not the shooter.
Wilson always said he did not commit the crime, but defense attorneys based his defense solely on a diminished capacity defense. School records show that Wilson never received more than a D or F in special education and was unable to tie his shoes, count money or mow his front lawn.
The State of Texas maintained that his IQ was in the mid to low 70’s and that his defense was a ruse to cover up the fact that Wilson was a seasoned criminal.
Edward Marshall, a Texas assistant attorney general, said in a statement,
“Wilson created schemes using a decoy to screen his thefts, hustled for jobs in the community, and orchestrated the execution of the snitch, demonstrating inventiveness, drive and leadership,”
Oddly enough the standard that the State of Texas uses to determine if a person is mentally retarded is to compare their behavior to the character “Lenny” from John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men”.
Steinbeck’s son, Thomas, came out strongly against the execution and the use of his father’s character to determine mental ability.
He said in a statement,
“Prior to reading about Mr. Wilson’s case, I had no idea that the great state of Texas would use a fictional character that my father created to make a point about human loyalty and dedication …. as a benchmark to identify whether defendants with intellectual disability should live or die. I am certain that if my father, John Steinbeck, were here, he would be deeply angry and ashamed to see his work used in this way,”
Wilson is the seventh death row inmate executed out of a scheduled 16 to be put to death by the State of Texas by the end of the year.