Inmate With Low I.Q. Nears Execution in Texas
Thu Dec 3, 2009 13:39

December 4, 2009
Inmate With Low I.Q. Nears Execution in Texas

HOUSTON — A 44-year-man whose lawyers claim he is mentally retarded
is scheduled to be executed Thursday evening in Huntsville, Tex.,
unless the United States Supreme Court agrees to hear his case.

The man, Bobby Wayne Woods, whose I.Q. hovers around the level of a
mildly retarded person’s, was convicted of the brutal killing of an
11-year-old girl in 1997 and sentenced to death.

The debate over whether he should be executed reflects the gray area
left by the Supreme Court in 2002, when it ruled the mentally
impaired were not eligible for the death penalty but left it up to
state courts to interpret which inmates qualified as impaired.

Mr. Woods’s lawyers argue that his intelligence scores are low enough
that he should be spared because of the Supreme Court ban in Atkins
v. Virginia. But several courts have rejected that claim.

Maurie Levin, a University of Texas law professor who represents Mr.
Woods, said in a pleading that “his I.Q. hovers around 70, the
magical cutoff point for determining whether someone is mentally

“He’s transparently childlike and simple,” she said. “It’s a travesty.”

In its 2002 ruling, the Supreme Court said that to demonstrate that
someone is mentally retarded, one must prove that the person has had
low I.Q. scores and a lack of fundamental skills from a young age.
The court said a score on intelligence tests of “around 70” indicated
mental retardation.

But that standard has been applied unevenly by state courts,
according to a study by Cornell law professors. Some state courts in
Mississippi, Alabama and Texas have held that inmates with scores as
low as 66 are not impaired, while an inmate in California with a
score of 84 was declared mentally retarded.

Courts in Texas repeatedly rejected Mr. Wood’s claims of mental
impairment, although the state’s highest criminal court last year
halted his execution to allow more hearings on the matter. That
reprieve was lifted in October and this week, the Texas Board of
Pardons and Paroles voted unanimously to reject a clemency request.

As a child, Mr. Woods struggled in school and eventually dropped out
in the seventh grade. He was barely literate and had to copy words
from a spelling list to write the simple notes he sent his family.

His intelligence was tested twice in grade school, and he received
scores of 80 and 78, but defense lawyers argued that those scores
should be adjusted downward to account for the age of the tests. As
an adult, he was tested just before his trial and scored 70. A second
test done in prison in 2002 showed him with an I.Q. of 68.

Mr. Woods, 44, was convicted of killing his former girlfriend’s
daughter in April 1997. A jury determined he had abducted the 11-year
old girl, Sarah Patterson, along with her brother, Cody, from the
family’s home in Granbury, Tex., about 35 miles southwest of Fort
Worth. The girl was raped before her throat was slit. The boy was
severely beaten and left for dead near a cemetery, but he survived.

The outcry in Hood County over the crime was so intense the trial was
moved 125 away miles, to Llano County, where a jury voted to condemn
Mr. Woods to death. At the trial, Cody Patterson identified Mr. Woods
as the man who had kidnapped them and killed his sister. Genetic
traces on the murder weapon were also linked to Mr. Woods.

Mr. Woods initially told the police he had killed the girl by
accident — he said he was holding a knife to her throat to keep her
quiet when she started to struggle and jerk. Later, he said, the
confession had been coerced and he blamed the murder on a cousin, who
hanged himself in the weeks after the abductions. Prosecutors claimed
there was no evidence of a second man at the scene.

The prosecution also submitted Sarah’s diary to the jury, in which
she professed hatred for Mr. Woods. Evidence was presented that the
girl had been molested and had contracted a sexually transmitted
disease that Mr. Woods also had.

The children’s mother, Schwanna Patterson, had kicked Mr. Woods out
of her home just days before her children were attacked. She was
convicted in 1998 of injury to her children though neglect, because,
prosecutors said, she did nothing to stop the kidnapping. She served
eight years in prison.

The question of Mr. Woods’s intelligence and whether he was mentally
impaired did not come up during the trial.

The application of the Atkins rule varies widely from state to state.
North Carolina courts, for instance, heard 21 Atkins claims and ruled
in the inmate’s favor 17 times. Alabama courts heard 26 claims and
ruled for the inmate three times.

  • Video From Death Row: Possibly Retarded Prisoner Faces Execution Renee Feltz Multimedia investigative reporter based in New York City Posted: December 1, 2009... more
    • Inmate With Low I.Q. Nears Execution in Texas — Petra, Thu Dec 3 13:39
    • Bobbie Woods and Proper Justiceqwkinuf, Thu Dec 3 00:06
      On April 30, 1997, Bobby Wayne Woods entered the home of his ex-girlfriend Schwana Patterson through an open window. Woods then raped her 11-year daughter, Sarah, then abducted her and her 9-year-old ... more
      • qwkinufxkittenx, Fri Dec 4 16:28
        It has also been stated that the books Bobby took out the library he could only read 3 letter words and did not understand the bigger words it was also stated that many of the books taken out were... more
      • Re: Bobbie Woods and Proper JusticeYvette Holden, Fri Dec 4 01:04
        All murders are appalling even state murder, two wrongs don't make it right. When society can remove and separate these people they should not be killing them. We have been protected against him all... more
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