July 23, 2024

Texas Killer’s Death Sentence Upheld

In 1991, Kenneth Wayne Morris, a 9th grade dropout who is now 37, killed James Moody Adams, co-founder of the Northwest Academy while while his wife, Marcene, hid in a closet.  Yesterday Morris’ attempt to have himself declared too mentally retarded to be executed was rejected by the Supreme Court.  This ruling, coupled with the court’s earlier decision that lethal injection is not cruel and unusual punishment, may finally allow justice to be done in Adams’ case.

Morris was twice tested by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice before the 2002 Supreme Court ruling [Atkins v. Virginia]. He received a score of 97 both times, court filings said.

After the ruling, he scored 53 and 64, which the state later called "thoroughly discredited."

A new execution date could be set as soon as a month from the day prosecutors go to court to request one.

After watching Barack Obama try to bowl a game, one thing is clear:  It’s pretty darn easy to act dumber than you are.  The most likely explanation for Morris’ loss of IQ points is that his lawyers told him to play the fool on the test after the Atkins decision. 

By ruling 7-2 that lethal injection is constitutional, the Supreme Court seems to have stated in no uncertain terms that the death penalty will remain part of the criminal justice landscape for decades to come.  Clearly this is the right decision.   

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing the main opinion, said the Kentucky inmates had failed to show that the three-drug method poses an unconstitutional risk of pain. He said prisoners who challenge a method as unconstitutional would have to show that it presented a "substantial risk" of harm to the prisoner. "Simply because an execution method may result in pain," Roberts wrote, "does not establish the sort of objectively intolerable risk of harm that qualifies as cruel and unusual."

That Morris might suffer a few moments of pain is inconsequential when compared to the agony Marcene Adams suffered watching her husband being gunned down by Morris and his murderous cohorts, to say nothing of the emotional pain she has undoubtedly suffered in the years since.

Justice Roberts again:

We begin with the principle, settled by Gregg, that capital punishment is constitutional. See 428 U. S., at 177 (joint opinion of Stewart, Powell, and Stevens, JJ.). It necessarily follows that there must be a means of carrying it out. Some risk of pain is inherent in any method of execution—no matter how humane—if only from the prospect of error in following the required procedure. It is clear, then, that the Constitution does not demand the avoidance of all risk of pain in carrying out executions.

As a result, America is that much better a place to call home today.

(h/t Ann Althouse)


Marc is a software developer, writer, and part-time political know-it-all who currently resides in Texas in the good ol' U.S.A.

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