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10 Dec, 2014 19:17

Two intellectually-disabled men executed in Georgia, Missouri

Two intellectually-disabled men executed in Georgia, Missouri

Two intellectually-disabled death row inmates were executed in the United States overnight, in the state of Georgia and in Missouri, the death-penalty standard bearer in 2014.

In Georgia, Robert Wayne Hosley was killed by lethal injection at 10:51 p.m. ET on Tuesday night, not long after the US Supreme Court denied his request for a stay of execution. The state’s high court also denied on Tuesday Hosley’s request for a stay of execution.

His attorneys had argued that he was disabled and that his original trial lawyer was an alcoholic. Those claims for reprieve were previously rejected by lower courts.

Hosley was put to death for the murder of Will Robinson, a sheriff’s deputy, in 1995.

"Robert Wayne Holsey is an intellectually disabled African-American man who was represented at trial by a chronic alcoholic who was more concerned about avoiding his own criminal prosecution than defending his client against the death penalty," his current lawyer, Brian Kammer, said before the execution, according to NBC News.

Kammer had argued that a US Supreme Court ruling in May - in which it found the state of Florida’s standard for proving an inmate was intellectually disabled was too narrow - should apply to Georgia.

"We will keep challenging the burden of proof that Georgia requires. It is too heavy," Kammer said Tuesday night. “It’s the heaviest burden of proof in the law and guarantees that the mentally ill will be executed."

In Missouri, Paul Goodwin became early Wednesday the tenth man executed by the state in 2014, matching Texas for most capital punishments carried out this year. There were no complications reported, as Missouri is one of several states criticized for a lack of transparency surrounding the source of its execution cocktail.

In 1998, Goodwin killed 63-year-old Joan Crotts with a hammer after sexually assaulting her and pushing her down a flight of steps. Goodwin, 48, was a former neighbor of Crotts who thought she played a role in getting him evicted from a boarding house.

Attorney Jennifer Herndon said that Goodwin had an IQ of 73 or possibly lower. Arguments in favor of his reprieve centered around the US Supreme Court’s ruling against the death penalty for the mentally handicapped.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon denied a clemency request for Goodwin, and the US Supreme Court rejected two appeals.

Amnesty International released a report in October that excoriated the United States, among a few other countries, for the ongoing execution of mentally-ill inmates — a violation of international standards, the group wrote.

“International standards clearly require that those suffering from mental and intellectual disabilities should not face the ultimate punishment,” said Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Global Issues director. “But in many cases disabilities are not identified during criminal processes.”

Florida, Missouri and Texas have combined for 28 of the 34 state executions in the US this year. Missouri’s 10 lethal injections mark a yearly record for the state.

A total of 32 US states permit capital punishment, and Texas has the highest cumulative number of executions.

In recent years, many US states, including Missouri, have turned to secretive sources, often compounding pharmacies, to supply execution ‘cocktails’ using unproven drugs to carry out capital punishments. These actions were the result of the European Union’s ban - in place over moral objections to capital punishment - against its pharmaceutical companies selling to US state correctional departments drugs that could be used in lethal injections.

Yet, compounding pharmacies do not produce their drugs under regulations enforced by the US Food and Drug Administration. In addition, multiple prisoners subjected to the unproven drugs have exhibited obvious pain and torment during lethal injections, leading many to question just how safe they are and further calling into question how humane or ethical the death penalty can be considered.