Tuesday, April 29, 2003

Retarded in Texas, Retarded in Tennessee....

Is Dining delayed, Dining denied? Twice during the last week claims of mental incompentence has halted the hangman...

The deets...

First in Texas...

A federal appeals court halted the scheduled Wednesday execution of a Texas killer so a court could hear new arguments about whether he is mentally retarded.

Robert Charles Ladd, 46, was to receive a lethal injection at 6 p.m. for the murder of a mentally disabled Tyler woman in 1996. The stay was issued nine hours before his scheduled execution at the Walls Unit in Huntsville.

The 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans granted the stay because of juvenile records uncovered by his attorney that indicate he might be mentally retarded. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals rejected the same argument last week.

Sydney Snelling-Young, Ladd's defense attorney, found a psychologist who tested Ladd years ago when he was in a juvenile prison in Gainesville, Texas. His IQ at the time was 67, below the accepted retardation threshold of 70. More recently his score has been 86, according to prison officials.

Prosecutors said Ladd's score of 86, his ability to obtain a graduate equivalency diploma and graduate from barber college prove that he is not mentally retarded.

Next in Tennessee...

Less than four hours from his scheduled execution, seven-time convicted murderer Paul Dennis Reid, a Texas drifter, got a reprieve from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Reid, 45, was set to die by lethal injection at 1 a.m. today, becoming the second Tennessee inmate executed in 43 years.

Reid dropped his appeals on two of his death sentences last month, clearing the way for his execution. His sister, Janet Kirkpatrick of Hungerford, filed a motion last week seeking to resume the appeals on his behalf because he is mentally ill.

U.S. District Court Judge Todd Campbell found that Reid was mentally ill but understood the consequences of his actions.

Kirkpatrick appealed to the 6th U.S. Circuit Court, and the justices ruled that a mental competency hearing was needed. The justices halted the execution and sent the case back to Campbell's court.

Reid received seven death sentences for a string of murders at fast-food restaurants in Nashville and Clarksville in 1997.

The day before, Reid chose his last meal — 16-ounce cut of prime rib, medium, seasoned with garlic. He also requested asparagus, a baked potato and a ''large'' piece of German chocolate.