TEXAS (USA): GILMAR GUEVARA SPARED EXECUTION BECAUSE HE IS INTELLECTUALLY DISABLED
April 28, 2020:
Texas prosecutors on 14 April 2020 asked that a Salvadoran man who has been on death row for nearly 19 years be spared lethal injection because he is intellectually disabled. The request by prosecutors in Houston in the case of Gilmar Guevara follows a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last year that changed the way Texas determines if a defendant is intellectually disabled and thus ineligible for execution. Guevara, 50, was convicted and sentenced to death for the June 2000 fatal shootings of 48-year-old Tae Youk, from South Korea, and 21-year-old Gerardo Yaxon, from Guatemala, during the attempted robbery of a convenience store. (Source: Associated Press, 15/04/2020)
“In this case, medical experts on both sides agreed the evidence shows Guevara is intellectually disabled,” Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg said on 14 April.
“As medical science and criminal justice increasingly intersect, it’s changing the law of the land and how and when prosecutors use the death penalty.” The re-evaluation of Guevara’s case comes after the Supreme Court last year ruled another Texas death row inmate, Bobby James Moore, is intellectually disabled and can’t be executed. The Supreme Court in 2002 barred execution of mentally disabled people but has given states some discretion to decide how to determine intellectual disability. Texas looks at 3 main points to define intellectual disability: IQ scores, with 70 generally considered a threshold; an inmate’s ability to interact with others and care for himself or herself; and whether evidence of deficiencies in either of those areas occurred before age 18. In 2004, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals created additional factors, including whether an individual’s conduct showed leadership and whether a person could “hide facts or lie effectively.” With Moore’s case, the Supreme Court said these additional factors have no grounding in prevailing medical practice. Guevara’s appellate attorneys have long argued jurors never heard about factors that led to their client’s intellectual disability, including being exposed to toxic chemicals in utero and enduring poverty, violence and malnutrition as a child.