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The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday evening denied a reprieve for the scheduled execution of a Missouri man missing part of his brain who was convicted of gunning down a sheriff’s deputy.
Cecil Clayton, who at 74 is Missouri’s oldest inmate on death row, was scheduled to die by lethal injection at 6 p.m. local time at the Eastern Reception, Diagnostic and Correctional Center in Bonne Terre, Missouri. Following a flurry of last-ditch appeals by Clayton’s attorneys, shortly after 7 p.m., the execution was delayed pending a response from the high court.
Gov. Jay Nixon (D) also denied clemency Tuesday night, the Associated Press reports.
Clayton’s attorney, hoping for a last-minute reprieve, argued for clemency based on a sawmill accident decades earlier that permanently damaged Clayton’s brain and left him incapable of understanding his crime and his punishment.
In November 1996, Clayton shot Barry County sheriff’s deputy Christopher Castetter in the forehead while the officer responded to a complaint about an argument between Clayton and his girlfriend.
Clayton’s lawyers noted in an appeal Friday that it was the opinion of three experts that Clayton was “legally incompetent,” with an IQ that classifies him as intellectually disabled. A 2004 test revealed his IQ to be 71.
The Missouri Supreme Court ruled 4-3 on Saturday that Clayton was not intellectually disabled under state law, and declined to hold a hearing to explore his mental competency.
“The problem is that in this country we say that we only execute the worst of the worst. You can see there’s a big hole in his right frontal lobe — that’s what controls impulse control and reasoning,” Elizabeth Unger Carlyle, one of Clayton’s attorneys, told the Riverfront Times Tuesday. “He’s just not tracking what’s really happening, what’s going on. He’s not able to respond well to it, or even be able to understand what’s happening to him in any rational way. And that’s just not the person that we ought to be executing.”
A scan of Cecil Clayton’s brain showing the missing portion of his frontal lobe.
While working at a sawmill in 1972, a piece of wood broke off and pierced Clayton’s head, according to court records. Doctors removed 20 percent of his frontal lobe, which controls, among other things, problem solving, spontaneity, memory, judgement and impulse control. The accident left Clayton prone to anxiety, depression, delusions and hallucinations, according to his lawyers.
On Monday, The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals stopped the scheduled execution of Randall Mays, 55, convicted of fatally shooting two police officers during a gunfight at his home. According to The Associated Press, Mays’ lawyers had pressed the court for an additional review of his mental competency.
Source: Huff Post