Man with potential mental disability receives death penalty

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This graphic is in the shape of Texas with the red white and blue lone star state flag inside the outline of the state.

News from Texas

The state of Texas executed a 32-year-old man June 21, despite evidence he may have had a mental disability.

As a child, Milton Mathis, convicted of murdering two individuals in a Texas crackhouse in 1998, often recorded childhood IQ scores above 70. However, a test conducted in 2000 by the Texas Department of Corrections recorded that he had an IQ of 70, according to an article in the Huffington Post.

Since 2002, when the Supreme Court ruled that the death penalty for people with mental disabilities is unconstitutional and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment, most courts used an IQ of 70 as a basic threshold for determining whether an individual has a mental disability.

Mathis was convicted three years prior to the decision, in 1999. Gov. Rick Perry vetoed a bill in 2001 outlawing the death penalty for people with mental disabilities, saying that execution decisions should be left to Texas juries. More than half a dozen people with mental disabilities may have been executed in the state between 1990 and 2001.

Since Perry became governorĀ in Dec. 2000, Texas has executed more than 230 individuals, by far the most of any state nationwide.

The Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal of the decision the morning of the execution.

The Houston Chronicle also strongly criticized the execution in a recent editorial.