Death Row Inmate Asks For Stay of Execution on IQ, DNA Grounds

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A Kentucky inmate who would otherwise face execution on September 16th has asked a Kenton Circuit Court judge to stop that execution, on grounds that he is mentally disabled.

The motion for a stay of execution was recently filed by Gregory L. Wilson, 53, who also claims that he has the right to request DNA testing on evidence in his case, which involves a 1987 kidnapping, rape and murder.

Wilson and a female accomplice, Brenda Humphrey, kidnapped restaurant worker Deborah Pooley, 30, as she was arriving home late at night. Using a knife, Wilson forced Pooley into the backseat of her car and proceeded to rape her there as Humphrey drove the car to Indiana. Wilson tied Pooley’s hands with a lamp cord and strangled her to death before dumping her body in a wooded area near Indianapolis. He and Humphrey then went on a shopping spree using Pooley’s credit card, buying clothing, shoes, watches and gasoline. The pair was apprehended two weeks later, and Humphrey is currently serving a life sentence for her role in the crime.

Only a few months before Pooley’s killing, Wilson had been released on parole after two rape convictions.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear signed a death warrant for Wilson on August 25, although the issues involved in the motion for stay of execution have been pending since April.

Wilson’s attorneys are claiming that since an IQ test the man took as a teenager showed that he had an IQ of only 62, he is ineligible for the death penalty. The U.S. Supreme Court had ruled in 2002 that to execute anyone whose IQ was below 70 constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

The attorneys have also filed an inventory of physical evidence in the case that has not yet been tested for DNA, and are seeking to have that testing completed.

Wilson is additionally asking the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to rule that he has not yet reached the statuatory limitations on challenging some aspects of Kentucky’s protocol for execution. His execution, should it go forward, would be the first since that state adopted new lethal injection protocals, last May; seven months before, the Kentucky Supreme Court had halted all executions, citing problems with the existing protocol.

Beshear had originally been expected to sign two additional death warrants, but a shortage of one of the drugs used in Kentucky’s lethal injections, sodium thiopental, has caused a delay in these executions. The state executioners have only enough sodium thiopental—a fast-acting barbiturate which is used to render the inmate unconscious, before a drug which causes paralysis and one that causes cardiac arrest are administered—for one execution, and that dose will expire on October 1.

 

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