TEXAS EXECUTES LOW-IQ CONVICTED KILLER
December 3, 2009: A convicted killer was executed in Texas, despite pleas from his lawyers he was too mentally impaired to qualify for capital punishment.
Bobby Woods was sentenced to death in 1998 for the sexual assault, abduction and murder of an 11-year-old girl the previous year.
Woods, 44, received lethal injection about a half-hour after the US Supreme Court refused to halt his punishment, which was delayed briefly until the high court ruled in his case.
His lawyers had argued Woods was mentally impaired, making him ineligible for execution, and that previous appeals to spare Woods' life were unsuccessful because of shoddy work by his lawyer at the time.
Tests administered to Woods put his IQ anywhere from the 60s to the 80s. An IQ of 70 is considered the threshold for mental impairment.
He was given the lethal injection at a state prison in Huntsville and was pronounced dead at 6.48pm, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
The Supreme Court in 2002 banned capital punishment for the mentally retarded but created a legal grey area by leaving it to states to define mental retardation.
Texas authorities sided with prosecutors who stressed that Woods qualified for capital punishment.
Woods' defence team had urged the Supreme Court to consider that he had the literacy level of a seven-year-old and previously had been represented by a lawyer described as incompetent.
Woods had been scheduled to die last year but the state's highest court halted the execution to allow further hearings in the case.
This week, the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles reportedly voted unanimously to reject a request for clemency.
Woods was the 24th person executed in Texas in 2009. The state has now carried out a record 447 executions since the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976. (Sources: Afp, 03/12/2009)