Texas May Be About to Execute a Mentally Retarded Prisoner [Updated]

RobertJamesCampbell.jpg
Robert James Campbell
Update at 4:09 p.m.: The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals just stayed Campbell's execution on the grounds that he may legally be mentally retarded/intellectually disabled.

It is regrettable that we are now reviewing evidence of intellectual disability at the eleventh hour before Campbell's scheduled execution. However, from the record before us, it appears that we cannot fault Campbell or his attorneys, present or past, for the delay. According to Campbell, in the period immediately after Atkins was decided, his attorney diligently searched for evidence of intellectual disability.12 And, when the Texas Department of Criminal Justice failed to turn over the results of the intelligence test they had administered on Campbell upon the attorney's request for "any and all intellectual functioning tests," the State gave the attorney incorrect and incomplete information. Thus, although the delay is regrettable, we do not see it as militating against a stay of execution in this case.

Campbell's habeas corpus claim now goes back to trial court.

Original post: At 6 this evening, Robert James Campbell will, odds are, become the first U.S. prisoner executed since Oklahoma spectacularly botched the lethal injection of Clayton Lockett two weeks ago. His lawyers have filed a last-ditch appeal, citing Lockett's death and the mysterious source of Texas' supply of pentobarbital, but Oklahoma used a different drug and different procedure, and the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals has in the past proven unsympathetic to complaints of drug secrecy.

The legalistic debate over whether Texas should be forced to reveal the source of its pentobarbital is important, but it obscures a more fundamental problem with Campbell's case and, more generally, the state's death-row machine: Campbell, the evidence suggests, may be mentally retarded, which, under current U.S. Supreme Court precedent, would make his execution unconstitutional.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals last week denied Campbell's request for a stay of execution.

See also: Texas Won't Have to Identify Its Execution-Drug Supplier After All

Campbell, 41, is on death row for the January 1991 kidnapping, rape and murder of a Houston bank employee.

Significantly, though, four of the nine justices disagreed. In a dissent, they wrote that Campbell's case presented "prima facie evidence of mental retardation."

Mental retardation is a slippery thing to define, particularly in capital cases. A dozen years after deciding that executing mentally retarded prisoners is unconstitutional, the Supreme Court is still grappling with exactly what legally constitutes mental retardation.

For now, the threshold in Texas is an I.Q. score of 70. Above that, the state is free to kill. Below, it's unconstitutional.

Campbell's I.Q. has fluctuated over the years, from 68 when he was tested in elementary school to 84 when the Texas Department of Criminal Justice tested him in 1990, when he was locked up for an unrelated crime, to 71 in 1992, when he was on death row.

Particularly troubling to the dissenting justices in Campbell's case is the fact that the state neglected to mention the two lower scores -- which, when one considers the margin of error, could both fall below the mental retardation threshold -- telling his attorneys that there had been only one I.Q. test and that Campbell had scored an 84.

The dissenting opinion doesn't definitively claim that Campbell is mentally retarded, just that there's a considerable amount of uncertainty that needs to be sorted out by the courts.

"This Court should not base its decisions that determine whether a person will live or be executed based on misinformation or wholly inadequate information," the dissenting judges write. "By reviewing applicant's claim on the merits, this Court would fulfill its ultimate obligation to ensure that Texas abides by the constitutional prohibition against the execution of a mentally retarded person."

Then again, Texas hasn't been terribly troubled by mental retardation questions in the past.

Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.

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175 comments
doublecheese
doublecheese

You know what might give me pause?  If this guy was a genius.  If he was close to figuring out quantum gravity, or let's say he's a pharmaceutical researcher who's working on a miracle cancer drug.  I think that would be a real case where I'd consider letting him live so that he could continue his research in some "heavily supervised" way.  That fact that he's a dumbass really doesn't do anything for me.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

111 with convictions for homicide

43 for negligent manslaughter

14 for voluntary manslaughter

15,635 Drun Driving Convictions

9,187 drug convictions

2,691 Assaults

1,724 weapons offenses

426 sexual assault convictions

303 Flight Escapes

228 Kidnapping convictions

This is a list, as reported by the federal government, of illegal aliens who were released in 2013 ALONE back onto the population instead of being deported.

So whatever happened to Rigoberto?  You know, the guy who killed the kid and maimed his mother after hitting their car in the M Streets while running from the cops?  He had multiple priors and was illegally in the country.  Why, he was let loose.  

This is the largest state-sanctioned jailbreak in American history brought to you by your Commander-in-Chief via his top law enforcement officer.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Notice how the anti-death penalty crowd has shied away from the "knew right from wrong" test to an IQ test.  The IQ measure is arbitrary and indeterminate hence, it can be manipulated by emotion.  

For instance, If the cut off is 70 how can you put to death a woman with kids who turned to God in jail but scores from 68 to 72 and is a model prisoner?  And who is to judge where her actual intelligence quotient lies on any particular day?

The fact that she serially, and with malice, buried alive her sixth husband in the back yard to collect the insurance does not speak to the fact she knew right from wrong.  She hid the body so as to not get caught.  

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

The blood-thirsty proponents of capital punishment must be in a rage over the stay. 

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

Anyone want to mention the woman he kidnapped, raped and murdered?

DOisDUMDUM
DOisDUMDUM

What's the point of legal abortion if we still need to put up with murderous retards?


Being a retard is reason enough to execute this retard. Even before he murdered someone. 

andypandy
andypandy

If the prosecutor was willing to repeatedly and knowingly deny the defense evidence of their client's mental ability despite their legal and ethical duty to do so it seems likely that they may have possibly denied the defense exculpatory evidence as well. 


If the State of Texas insists on having laws that make legal the premeditated murder of another then the State itself should be bound by the laws it created to implement and oversee the process to make sure that the sentence is carried out properly. 


The real question that people should be asking is not about the guilt or innocence of this man or even his I.Q. but why the prosecutor and the prison system did not disclose the information requested as required by law.  If they had simply done so there would be no need for the execution to be stayed.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Donald Dillbeck -- Florida. Killed policeman in 1979. Escaped from prison in 1990, kidnapped and killed female motorist after escape. Condemned 1991.

Dawud Mu'Min -- Virginia. Killed cab driver in holdup. Sentenced 1973. Escaped 1988. Raped/killed woman 1988. Condemned 1989. Executed 1997.

Randy Greenawalt -- Escaped from Prison in 1978, while serving a life sentence for a 1974 murder. He then murdered a family of 4 people, shotgunning them to death, including a toddler.

Winford Stokes -- Missouri. Ruled insane on two counts of murder 1969. Escaped from asylum, 1978. Murdered again. Executed for this murder, 1990.


tip of the iceberg

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

The MHMR (Mental Health and Mental Retardation - Dallas Unit) is offended by your use of "Intellectually disabled" in regards to a person who abducted. beat, raped then shot a bank teller.  Notice we do not bring in race of the teller, his or her gender, or her age.

Sounds too much like a homeless guy who went on a three state killing spree.

No longer homeless and DEFINITELY not under our care.

kill'im.

and the NAACP is off . . . oh just never mind.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@doublecheese  Based on his photo, I think he was a Talosian extra in the original Star Trek pilot episode called "The Menagerie".

doublecheese
doublecheese

@holmantx  How much this hurts American citizens simply doesn't matter to the Obama regime.  It's actually quite the point.  The longer illegal aliens stay in this country, the more likely they are to reproduce here and create the left's "preferred" citizens, which are definitely not whites with strong ties to capitalism and a limited, constitutional republic.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz  

Get any of that bank teller blood on you?

don't worry.

we'll get him to the hole he needs to be in.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@Sotiredofitall  I believe it was mentioned in the article: "Campbell, 41, is on death row for the January 1991 kidnapping, rape and murder of a Houston bank employee."


What pro-execution folks always fall back on is the appeal to emotion fallacy. We get it -- these people (if they are, in fact, correctly found guilty in the first place) are really bad people who did absolutely terrible and unforgivable things to other people. While that is always worth keeping front and center, it's equally important to consider whether we believe the state should be granted the power to take a human being's life as a punishment for their crimes.


It's a very antiquated, Iron Age mentality, this "eye for an eye" concept. Why is it OK for the state to kill a murderer but not to rape a rapist with a metal phallus attached to a "rape punishment machine"? Because we deem it "cruel and unusual punishment." But killing someone isn't? The cognitive dissonance is deafening. I think we are slowly waking up to the fact that this is an idea best left to history, along with human enslavement and the subjugation of women, rather than being allowed to continue into the future.

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@DOisDUMDUM You are both a horrible argument for capital punishment and and excellent argument for legal abortion.

roo_ster
roo_ster

@bvckvs  


You are jealous of his iq test scores and lashing out you poor dear.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@holmantx  Sounds like we should ban the death penalty AND tighten up prison security. Good point.

doublecheese
doublecheese

@holmantx  There's a small but real segment of the population that simply needs to be culled.  Those that have proven themselves unable to live in society by their heinous crimes, are better off removed...permanently.  If culling is the goal, and I think it is, a person's lacking in mental capacity surely doesn't help their case.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@holmantx  

Here's a bit of related history: in 2008 when Sandra Crenshaw was called crazy by D Magazine (and most of the community) for her antics in carting off ballot boxes to "correct" the votes and then running from the police, she threatened to march in protest on the house of D publisher Wick Allison. This would have been in protest not against the charges of ballot tampering, but in protest against discrimination toward the mentally ill.


No, really, here's her screed:
"I have never been diagnosed as such. ... making a mockery of the mental ill is considered despicable and irresponsible by mental health advocacy groups. Said groups maintain that those suffering from cancer and other illnesses are not subjected to abusive public humiliation..."

doublecheese
doublecheese

@bvckvs @doublecheese  Yes, of course I would agree to the most extreme example you could come up with.  There's no logical fallacy there at all...How is it you are allowed anywhere near the education system?


Besides that, I said I'd "consider" it...

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum @SotiredofitallAnd you say the pro-capital punishment camp is appealing to emotional fallacy?  You're trying to paint slavery and subjugation of women as the same thing as capital punishment.  Two are the absolutely, unmistakably wrong acts of depriving someone of their natural rights.  The other is punishment for a crime, with a high bar set to demand that punishment.

If you want to relate something to slavery or subjugation of women, relate the plight of the victims of this, or any other, death row killer to it.  He seemingly permanently subjugated his female victim, she can never regain her natural rights, her family can never be compensated for her loss.

I'm willing to listen and give ample consideration to any thoughtful argument against capital punishment, but the point you just made doesn't cut the mustard.

Daniel
Daniel

The State of Texas will not wake up to that fact anytime soon. Our state is run by sociopaths, cretins and faux-macho ignoramuses. 

Sotiredofitall
Sotiredofitall topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum @Sotiredofitall


Now what was her name, just "bank employee"? 


I don't favor the death penalty - just think it's shameful that the victim is so quickly overlooked in these debates.   I favor life without parole and elimination of the current process that continually punishes the victim's family 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@doublecheese @holmantx  

That's why the anti-death penalty crowd has quickly morphed away from both the consequences of allowing them to live, and going to the argument of IQ as a standard.

Because they lose on both counts - heinous murderers cannot be contained and most of that group passes the test.  And the test is did they know right from wrong at the time of the offense.  None of them hang around to chat with the cops.  They run. They knew.

so the intellectual argument has changed.

but the facts remain as is.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz @holmantx  

"I'd like a chance t' shoot at a educated man once in my life." ... Gus McCrae, former Texas Ranger, "Lonesome Dove". A quip, or lament, on having been relegated as a law man to only shooting the ignorant since they are typically the ones to get caught.

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@RTGolden1 @CogitoErgoSum @Sotiredofitall  It's been shown that capital punishment cases cost taxpayers much more than life imprisonment sentences. So, you're saying we should pay something like three times the cost to kill a murderer just so the victims' families can feel better? Many victims' families demand harsher punishment than a jury ultimately decides is fair, which is why we don't permit mob justice anymore. Sorry for their loss- I really am - but "an eye for an eye" can take a backseat to a higher standard of morailty we should aspire toward, as we did in those other instances I mentioned above. 

RTGolden1
RTGolden1 topcommenter

@CogitoErgoSum @RTGolden1@SotiredofitallWhat is the alternative?  Just let them kill?  Life in prison is not justice, not in this country, not anymore.  I'll grant that the death penalty might be more of a reckoning than true justice, but it is a punishment that fits the crime committed.  How do you face a victim's family and say "Well, we got the guy who killed your daughter, and boy did we get justice! By proxy, through your tax dollars, you will now be supporting that bastard for the rest of his life. During which he'll have access to free college education, free cable TV, and three meals a day.  But to make him pay for his crime, we'll shut his lights off at 10pm prompt every night."

CogitoErgoSum
CogitoErgoSum

@RTGolden1 @CogitoErgoSum @Sotiredofitall  You're smart enough to get my point -- and it's not based on emotion. The point was simple: outdated modes of thought about human liberty are just that - outdated. We used to think certain groups weren't worthy of basic rights -- blacks, women, gays -- even animals. We are now beginning to realize that even convicted murderers should be guaranteed the most basic of rights -- life, despite the fact they denied others that right. No one person -- or collective -- should have the power to take another person's life unless it be in self-defense. Additionally, it is pure hypocrisy to tell people it's not moral to kill others, while also telling them it is OK for the collective to kill them for doing so.

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk @holmantx @CogitoErgoSum  Happy?  That song makes me want to drive off the road, or is that when my wife is in the car with me.  Or maybe its both since a station that plays that would never be on in my car unless she is in it

bmarvel
bmarvel topcommenter

@holmantx nonresponsive, holman. 

mavdog raises legitimate issues. We know as a matter of certitude that each one of these factors has played a role in putting someone on death row who otherwise would not be there. How can you justify this? 

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@mavdog @holmantx  

Ignore the facts? Ha! you are now a running joke.

You hoist up blather to ignore the facts.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@holmantx

let's go thru the list of those who were executed with their guilt in doubt.....

crucial evidence kept from the defense? check.

forensic work that was later proven to be falsified? check.

witnesses who were themselves convicted felons, granted relief in exchange for their testimony? check.

anybody who ignores these facts and justifies illegal conduct by the prosecution are the ones who are guilty of "tramp[ling] on the innocent dead" as well as supporting the perversion of the American justice system.

the desire to ensure fair justice is neither a conservative nor a liberal issue, it's merely the pursuit of equity, of justice being right vs wrong.

clearly we see which side you sit on.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@mavdog  

The only fact is that you toss up innuendo as reasonable doubt, after a judge and jury have already rejected it as such.

But here you are again, and for your own terrific goodness sake.  You trample on the innocent dead in a sad attempt to look clever.  "Look at me! I care ergo you don't."  Only jerks do this.  

and Liberals.  

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@holmantx

ah yes, the all too familiar tactic of holman to ignore the facts when they show him to be wrong. the typical diarrhea of words coupled with constipation of thought.

keep up the good work! you never fail to meet expectations....

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@mavdog @holmantx  

and beyond a reasonable doubt you alone sit in judgment of the citizen, and the appellate courts on the most serious of decisions - death.

In the name of Public Safety.

Get under your bed, dog.

There may be Thunder.


mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@holmantx

It's been adjudicated and it's yours that is hearsay, and after the fact: The innocent dead can't defend themselves.

no, it is left for those who strive for justice to defend the wrongly convicted.

and as the links show, there is evidence of wrongful convictions.

evidence. facts.

not surprising that you are unable to recognize it.

eyes wide shut.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@mavdog @holmantx  

Jerk. Kick the dead and smirk.  Pants on fire? Your face must itch.  Here's the rest of the story.  It's been adjudicated and it's yours that is hearsay, and after the fact: The innocent dead can't defend themselves.

His execution closed the book on the fatal stabbing of Wanda Lopez, a single mother and gas station clerk whose final, desperate screams were captured on a 911 tape.

A Gang member and murderer who ruthlessly shot one victim nine times with a rifle before emptying at least nine more rounds into the only eyewitness — a man who barely survived to testify. 

James Lee Beathard received the death sentence for his role in the 1984 murder of Gene Hathorne Sr., 45, his wife, Linda Sue, 34, and their 14-year-old son, Marcus, while they were watching television in their mobile home outside Groveton, a small town in East Texas.

these come from your links

roo_ster
roo_ster

@ozonelarryb  


Even assuming the worst of leos and prosecutors and their proclivity to testilie and such...the death penalty saves orders of magnitude more innocent life than may ever be proved wrongfully executed.


Ftr i do assume the worst.  On the part of prosecutors cops defendants policritters and any in positions of authority.  Especially those with sov immunity to any extent.


Forgot to add judges.  They are rat bastards too.

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

@holmantx

In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that the death penalty in this country has ever executed even ONE innocent in the past century!

your pants are on fire...

Carlos DeLuna: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-tx-1-story,0,653915.story

Ruben Cantu: http://www.chron.com/news/houston-texas/article/Did-Texas-execute-an-innocent-man-1559704.php

Joseph O'Dell: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/URS.PDF

David Spence:

http://partners.nytimes.com/library/politics/camp/051400wh-bush-cases.html

Cameron Willingham: http://www.innocenceproject.org/Content/Cameron_Todd_Willingham_Wrongfully_Convicted_and_Executed_in_Texas.php

Gary Graham, Claude Jones,

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

@ozonelarryb  

As for the penal system accidentally executing an innocent person, I must point out that in this imperfect world, nothing that is worth having comes without risk. After all, far, far more innocent lives have been taken by convicted murderers than the supposedly 23 innocents mistakenly executed this century. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that the death penalty in this country has ever executed even ONE innocent in the past century! Also consider that thousands of American citizens are murdered each year by released and paroled criminals. These are the serious flaws in life sentences that abolitionists prefer to trivialize to nonexistence.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

Your bloodlust and lack of empathy toward the wrongfully convicted is also psychopathic. And not pretty. Not uncommon either.

Ever served on a jury with a rabid drooler of a prosecutor? It's scary.

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