Texas Executes Mentally Retarded Milton Mathis by Lethal Injection
Milton Mathis, a mentally retarded man convicted of killing two people and paralyzing a third in a drug-related shooting in Houston in 1998, was executed by lethal injection Tuesday evening.
Although the US Supreme Court banned the execution of the mentally retarded– those generally defined as having an IQ below 70– in 2002, that ruling, Atkins v. Virginia, allowed for the execution of those individuals already on death row. Mathis was sentenced to die in 1999.
According to Reuters, multiple intelligence tests, including one administered by the Texas Department of Corrections, proved that Mathis was indeed retarded. He scored in the low 60s in those tests, including a 62 on the Department of Corrections IQ exam.
Mathis, who was 32, has suffered from serious mental disabilities since he was a child. He also started doing heavy drugs at a very young age, smoking PCP and marijuana soaked in formaldehyde, known as “fry,” at the tender age of 12.
“Mathis has suffered from obvious mental disabilities since childhood. He failed the first, fifth and eighth grades and dropped out of high school in the ninth grade,” former Texas Governor Mark White, a Democrat, wrote in a Dallas Morning News editorial urging current Republican Governor Rick Perry to temporarily halt the execution.
But Perry, who has overseen the executions of over 230 individuals– more than any other US governor in modern history– has proven himself an eager killer of retarded people time and time again. He even vetoed a bill banning the execution of the retarded in 2001, a year before the US Supreme Court ruled such killings violated the Constitution’s prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment.
Perry, who is considering running for the Republican nomination for US President, governs a state in which the vast majority of citizens support capital punishment.
Mathis was convicted in 1999 of the shooting deaths of Travis Brown and Daniel Hibbard in a Fort Bend County home. Fifteen-year-old Melanie Almaguer was also shot in the head and paralyzed, and Mathis was going to shoot her mother as well, but he ran out of bullets. He robbed the house, set it on fire and fled.
Mathis faced Almaguer, who was present as a witness at his execution, and told her he “never meant” to hurt her. “You were just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” he said.
According to Reuters, Mathis’ last meal consisted of two burgers with bacon, fried pork chops, fried chicken, fried fish, chili cheese fries, regular fries, and fruit punch.
A last-ditch effort by his lawyers for a stay of execution and a review of his case was turned down by the state Supreme Court.
Before dying, Mathis decried Texas’ capital punishment system as “mass slaughter” and declared that “the system has failed me. This is a miscarriage of justice.”
Milton Mathis was pronounced dead at 6:53 pm local time.
He was the sixth person to be executed in the state of Texas this year, and the 23rd in the United States. Texas, by far, executes the most people of any state in the US. The Lone Star State has put 469 people to death since capital punishment was reinstated in the US in 1976.
The United States, Kyrgyzstan, Iran and Japan are the only countries that execute the mentally retarded.
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