US executes prisoner with brain damage

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New York, March 18 (IANS) The State of Missouri has executed Cecil Clayton, a man who had suffered brain damage in a work-related accident in 1972, and who was sentenced to death for the murder of a police officer over 20 years later.

Clayton, 74, was pronounced dead early Tuesday morning, eight minutes after receiving the lethal injection, Efe news agency reported citing the Missouri Department of Corrections.

He was sentenced to death upon being convicted of killing Christopher Castetter, a Barry county policeman, in 1996 following a domestic dispute between Clayton and his ex-girlfriend.

The execution was engulfed in controversy, given that following an accident in 1972, doctors extracted 20 percent of Clayton’s frontal lobe.

According to Clayton’s lawyer, Elizabeth Unger Carlyle, the removal of that part of his brain rendered him impulsive and aggressive.

Carlyle said that before the accident “he was happily married, raising a family and working hard at his logging business”.

She had further argued that Clayton suffered from a mental disability as a result of the accident, ergo the constitution would protect his right to be spared from execution.

The lawyer submitted three last-minute appeals to the Supreme Court to overturn the lethal verdict, but they were all rejected after deliberation by the judges, delaying the execution for more than three hours.

“The world will not be a safer place because Mr. Clayton has been executed,” Carlyle said in a statement.

Clayton is the second prisoner to be executed in Missouri in 2015, and the 10th nationwide.

Since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976, a total of 1,404 prisoners have been executed, 82 of them in Missouri.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals suspended on Tuesday the execution of Randall Mays, which was scheduled to take place on Wednesday.

Mays was sentenced to death for the murder of two policemen in 2007.

The judges agreed to review the case to determine if Mays suffered from any mental disability, and if he qualified for the death penalty.

The death penalty in Texas, the state with the highest execution rate, is at a particularly critical moment as only one dose of the execution chemical, pentobarbital, remains in the state’s possession.

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