William Henry Bell was convicted of the murder of Dennis Hepler in 1989. The jury handed down a death sentence. Now, after almost 30 years, Bell has left his cell on death row after a decades-long effort to vacate Bell’s execution ended with the attorney general exhausting the state’s appeals process.
The vacated sentence underscores the continuing decline of the death penalty in the U.S.
Continue reading: Free Times
Ever since the Supreme Court ruled that prisoners suffering from “mental retardation” — a now outdated term — could not face the death penalty in the 2002 case Atkins v. Virginia, debates about whether a felon qualifies for execution have often revolved around a single number: an IQ score. On Tuesday, Georgia prisoner Warren Hill was executed for the 1990 beating death of a fellow inmate. His attorneys argued unsuccessfully that his IQ of 70 disqualified him for the punishment. This evening, Texas is set to execute Robert Ladd for beating a woman to death with a hammer in 1996. His attorney has pointed out that Ladd’s IQ of 67 would disqualify him from execution in most other states. Continue reading: The Marshall Project
Please read “Power and Greed and the Corruptible Seed,” a look at mental disability, prosecutorial misconduct, and the death penalty, by Michael Perlin, director of the International Mental Disability Law Reform Project at New York Law School. Thanks to the Marshall Project for notifying us of the report’s publication today, 11/24/14.