The United States Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to grant a reprieve to a death row inmate who is to be executed in the state of Oklahoma despite suffering, according to his…
The United States Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to grant a reprieve to a death row inmate who is to be executed in the state of Oklahoma despite his lawyers claiming that he suffers from serious psychiatric problems.
Benjamin Cole, 57, is to receive a lethal injection Thursday at 10 a.m. (3 p.m. GMT) in McAlester Penitentiary in the central United States.
He had been sentenced to death in 2004 for the murder of his nine-month-old daughter. According to prosecutors, he killed her to silence her before resuming a game of video games.
He has long suffered from “paranoid schizophrenia” and “lives in an almost catatonic state”, according to a statement from his lawyers. “He can’t take care of his hygiene, crawls when he doesn’t have a wheelchair and barely communicates with the guards, and his lawyers,” they add.
However, the Supreme Court of the United States has prohibited the execution of convicts who do not understand what they are being punished for.
With the approach of the date scheduled for his execution, the defenders of Mr. Cole have multiplied the urgent appeals, in particular before the high court, to try to save him.
Oklahoma authorities countered that he was competent to be executed. The convict, a “Messianic Jew”, has “the intelligence to speak” but is silent with his lawyers because they do not understand “his extreme religiosity”, they wrote to the Supreme Court.
On the other hand, “he agreed to speak with a neutral expert in a state hospital and very clearly expressed his understanding of the sentence”, they added.
Mr Cole’s defense found that explanation “implausible”. “That he was able to have a long conversation … contradicts reports from guards, medical personnel and others who have not been able to have meaningful interactions with Mr. Cole in recent years,” the statement said. one of his lawyers, Emma Rolls.