TEXAS, USA. COURT STAYS MURPHYâS EXECUTION TO HEAR RETARDATION CLAIMS
January 19, 2006: the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stayed the execution of Julius Murphy 24 hours before he was scheduled to die by lethal injection. The court ordered a state district court to review claims by Murphy, 27, that he is mentally retarded and cannot be subject to capital punishment.
The US Supreme Court ruled in 2002 that executing a mentally retarded person violated the US Constitution's ban on cruel and unusual punishment.
Murphy was condemned for the 1997 murder of Jason Erie, 26, during a robbery in the northeast Texas town of Texarkana.
Murphy's attorney Kevin Dunn said the district court can order new IQ tests on Murphy or use other methods to determine his intelligence. No date has been set for a new hearing.
Murphy was the first person scheduled to be executed in Texas this year. The state leads the nation in capital punishment, having executed 355 people since 1982, when Texas resumed executions following a 1976 decision by the US Supreme Court lifting a death penalty ban.
So far, 12 executions are scheduled for this year. Nineteen prisoners were put to death by lethal injection in 2005. (Sources: Reuters, 19/01/2006)