The Cruelty of Killing the Intellectually Disabled

The state of Virginia plans to put Teresa Lewis to death on September 23, 2010.

How does killing the intellectually disabled give us justice?

The state of Virginia plans to put Teresa Lewis to death on September 23 for orchestrating the 2002 murders of her husband and stepson for insurance money.  Strangely, though, this so-called “mastermind” has an IQ of 72 and has been diagnosed with “borderline mental retardation”.  Further, one of the two shooters in the case admitted in 2004 that he was the true mastermind and that he determined shortly after meeting Lewis that she was “not too bright and could be easily manipulated.” And it seems that that is just what he did.  His IQ, incidentally was scored at 113.  The two shooters were sentenced to life.  Lewis, a non-shooter, was cooperative, pled guilty and now faces death.

This is the second execution date set for this month of a person whose mental capacity borders on intellectual disability.  The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it would be unconstitutional to execute such individuals, except that these two individuals were not recognized in their legal proceedings as meeting the definition of “mentally retarded” (the outdated term used in legal-ese), which requires a look at a number of factors.  Accountability and providing justice for the sake of the murder victims is not the question here, but surely these individuals whose culpability is diminished by their mental capacity should not be executed in a humane society.

Holly Wood, an African American man in Alabama may be put to death tonight if Governor Bob Riley does not intervene.  At the crux of his case is the unsurprising issue of ineffective legal counsel.  The lawyer who represented him at the sentencing phase was a total rookie – no experience with death penalty cases, let alone criminal law.  He failed to share with the jury information about Wood’s mental impairments and as a result, this crucial mitigating factor was missing from deliberations that resulted in the decision to send him to the gurney.  While there was no question about his guilt, four federal judges in three courts, whose opinions did not carry the day, concluded that he was denied adequate legal representation.

The failure to investigate Wood’s mental disability was proof said two dissenting U.S. Supreme Court justices of “inattention and neglect.”  And so, another person goes to death row because of a system that is willing to allow poor legal representation for people facing the most severe and irreversible sentence.  Incidentally, his IQ has been assessed (post-conviction) at 64 and 59.  A reporter asked me yesterday how this score would not indicate his “mental retardation”; thus, how could Wood’s execution be constitutional?  I really don’t know.

Help us stop the pending executions of Teresa Lewis and Holly Wood by taking action today.

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23 thoughts on “The Cruelty of Killing the Intellectually Disabled

  1. This is a complete injustice. It is disusting that our country could allow this to happen. I hope and pray justice is given and that these people will not die because of the legal systems stupidity! Ironic-seems our system is VERY disabled!

  2. This is awful! Governor Bob Riley has denied Holly Wood clemency, and now the family of his victim Ruby Gosha is getting their vengeance in the form of justice saitisfied by having Alabama kill him! My heart breaks for them and for Wood's family, who is about to undergo the pain in losing their loved one to state-sponsored murder in spite of his mental retardation! I pray that God will give Wood and his family comfort and peace in his final moments before his death. :cry: Here's the link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39079665

  3. This is awful! Governor Bob Riley has denied Holly Wood clemency, and now the family of his victim Ruby Gosha is getting their vengeance in the form of justice saitisfied by having Alabama kill him! My heart breaks for them and for Wood's family, who is about to undergo the pain in losing their loved one to state-sponsored murder in spite of his mental retardation! I pray that God will give Wood and his family comfort and peace in his final moments before his death. :cry: Here's the link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39079665

  4. This is awful! Governor Bob Riley has denied Holly Wood clemency, and now the family of his victim Ruby Gosha is getting their vengeance in the form of justice saitisfied by having Alabama kill him! My heart breaks for them and for Wood's family, who is about to undergo the pain in losing their loved one to state-sponsored murder in spite of his mental retardation! I pray that God will give Wood and his family comfort and peace in his final moments before his death. :cry: Here's the link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39079665

  5. I can't believe that injustice is done by having Alabama and Ruby Gosha's family kill Holly Wood in spite of his mental retardation! And I am feeling as saddened as Wood's family is in losing him, a victim of the cruelty of lethal injection! Alabama has clearly joined Texas and Virginia itself in violating the Atkins v. Virginia law by the U.S. Supreme Court! I feel that the vengeance of Gosha's family was satisfied! And I truly hope Wood made his peace with God before he died. May God comfort and forgive both families for what they've done. :cry:

  6. I do not know why a judge and jury would sentence to death.Two persons;by the demonstration of the facts as presented are incapable of making their own decisions.That their execution would be UNCONSTITUTIONAL; as ruled by the Supreme Court of the United States,is self-evident,I as as citizen of these United p,with all due respect to the Constitutionally delegated office holders;both elected and appointed,as authority over these cases,PLEAD FOR MERCY on their behalf,that praying their sentences be commuted to Life in prison,that the integrity of justice be preserved.

  7. This is a complete injustice. It is disusting that our country could allow this to happen. I hope and pray justice is given and that these people will not die because of the legal systems stupidity! Ironic-seems our system is VERY disabled!

  8. I had previously stated I am a citizen of these United States,I am greatly saddened,No one intervened.A life is taken, it does not bring the murder victim back to life. The integrity of justice has been compromised.We have been in this nation granted the unalienable rights to life,liberty,and pursuit of happiness,as endowed by our Creator.Could we have extended mercy to another even if we believed they least deserved any mercy at all and preserved their life?May God have mercy on us all.

  9. This is awful! Governor Bob Riley has denied Holly Wood clemency, and now the family of his victim Ruby Gosha is getting their vengeance in the form of justice saitisfied by having Alabama kill him! My heart breaks for them and for Wood’s family, who is about to undergo the pain in losing their loved one to state-sponsored murder in spite of his mental retardation! I pray that God will give Wood and his family comfort and peace in his final moments before his death. :cry: Here’s the link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/39079665

  10. I can’t believe that injustice is done by having Alabama and Ruby Gosha’s family kill Holly Wood in spite of his mental retardation! And I am feeling as saddened as Wood’s family is in losing him, a victim of the cruelty of lethal injection! Alabama has clearly joined Texas and Virginia itself in violating the Atkins v. Virginia law by the U.S. Supreme Court! I feel that the vengeance of Gosha’s family was satisfied! And I truly hope Wood made his peace with God before he died. May God comfort and forgive both families for what they’ve done. :cry:

  11. I do not know why a judge and jury would sentence to death.Two persons;by the demonstration of the facts as presented are incapable of making their own decisions.That their execution would be UNCONSTITUTIONAL; as ruled by the Supreme Court of the United States,is self-evident,I as as citizen of these United p,with all due respect to the Constitutionally delegated office holders;both elected and appointed,as authority over these cases,PLEAD FOR MERCY on their behalf,that praying their sentences be commuted to Life in prison,that the integrity of justice be preserved.

  12. I had previously stated I am a citizen of these United States,I am greatly saddened,No one intervened.A life is taken, it does not bring the murder victim back to life. The integrity of justice has been compromised.We have been in this nation granted the unalienable rights to life,liberty,and pursuit of happiness,as endowed by our Creator.Could we have extended mercy to another even if we believed they least deserved any mercy at all and preserved their life?May God have mercy on us all.

  13. mentally disabled or not, murder is murder and law is law. if you don't want to spend life in jail or be executed, DON'T MURDER SOMEONE! it's simple. i have no sympathy for CRIMINALS!

  14. At least Gregory Wilson's upcoming execution has been stayed by the Kentucky Supreme Court judge because of questions about the state's lethal injection process. They should know that Wilson is also intellectually disabled.
    http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/ohio-news/jud

    Also, to quote Wood's sisters in their note: "The law failed to protect the mentally disabled. The legal system in Alabama is flawed." Update: http://www.dailycomet.com/article/20100909/APN/10

  15. mentally disabled or not, murder is murder and law is law. if you don’t want to spend life in jail or be executed, DON’T MURDER SOMEONE! it’s simple. i have no sympathy for CRIMINALS!

  16. At least Gregory Wilson's upcoming execution has been stayed by the Kentucky Supreme Court judge because of questions about the state's lethal injection process. They should know that Wilson is also intellectually disabled.
    http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/ohio-news/jud

    Also, to quote Wood's sisters in their note: "The law failed to protect the mentally disabled. The legal system in Alabama is flawed." Update: http://www.dailycomet.com/article/20100909/APN/10

  17. At least Gregory Wilson's upcoming execution has been stayed by the Kentucky Supreme Court judge because of questions about the state's lethal injection process. They should know that Wilson is also intellectually disabled.
    http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/ohio-news/jud

    Also, to quote Wood's sisters in their note: "The law failed to protect the mentally disabled. The legal system in Alabama is flawed." Update: http://www.dailycomet.com/article/20100909/APN/10

  18. It is sad that both Holly Wood and Cal Brown are dead, 2 victims of execution: the former in spite of mental retardation, the latter in Washington State. And both families of the victims of Wood and Brown got their vengeance in the form of justice satisfied by the deaths of their killers! My heart breaks for all families who think that executions “bring them closure”. :(

  19. At least Gregory Wilson’s upcoming execution has been stayed by the Kentucky Supreme Court judge because of questions about the state’s lethal injection process. They should know that Wilson is also intellectually disabled.

    http://www.daytondailynews.com/news/ohio-news/judge-halts-execution-scheduled-in-kentucky-909306.html

    Also, to quote Wood’s sisters in their note: “The law failed to protect the mentally disabled. The legal system in Alabama is flawed.” Update: http://www.dailycomet.com/article/20100909/APN/1009090737?p=all&tc=pgall&tc=ar

  20. Goodbye to trash.
    Get off the mentally disabled, The attorneys said she was a few points higher tham 70. They never said she was disabled or slow. She killed family for financial gain so stop with all the "she is a good woman who sings hymns" crap. She is a killer who lived longer than her poor victems.

  21. Goodbye to trash.
    Get off the mentally disabled, The attorneys said she was a few points higher tham 70. They never said she was disabled or slow. She killed family for financial gain so stop with all the “she is a good woman who sings hymns” crap. She is a killer who lived longer than her poor victems.