In an early order on Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court curtly informed, “The application for stay of execution of sentence of death presented to Justice Scalia and by him referred to the Court is denied.” Marvin Wilson, 54, had challenged his execution as unconstitutional under the 2002 decision of Atkins v. Virginia that banned the execution of mentally retarded people, but allowed states to exercise their discretion.
Though Wilson was diagnosed as mentally retarded, Texas argued that the test that showed Wilson’s IQ was 61 was conducted by an inexperience intern, and that several other tests showed that Wilson had an IQ above 70.
Texas also argued that the state had the discretion to consider seven factors in determining whether someone like Wilson should be executed. Such considerations included the person’s ability to lie, ability to lead, and whether the family and friends of the convict took him to be mentally retarded.
Lawyers for Wilson argued that such considerations allowed the state to ignore the law by unreasonably applying “non-clinical” factors to disqualify Wilson from the protections of the Atkins ruling. Also, Wilson’s lawyer emphasized, Texas was the only state to use such a test.
Wilson was convicted of the murder for the November 1992 killing of a 21-year old police drug informant and was sentenced to death in 1994. However, Wilson’s lawyers also said that apparently Texas has received evidence suggesting that Wilson was not the shooter, but the Supreme Court did not address the issue.
Roughly three out of every eight executions since 1976 has been followed through in Texas according to the Death Penalty Information Center.
In a separate case, the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities said that Texas’s test relies on false stereotypes and counts only severely incapacitated people as mentally retarded.
This year, already by July, Texas has conducted 6 out of the 26 executions in the nation.
The case is Wilson v. Thaler, U.S. Supreme Court, No. 12-5349.