In the 2002 case Atkins v. Virginia, the US Supreme Court held that it is unconstitutional to impose the death penalty on the mentally retarded (as opposed to those who are mentally incompetent to stand trial in the first place). In the case of Marvin Wilson, Texas is apparently trying to get around that ruling by simply ignoring any evidence that he is, in fact, mentally retarded. The prosecution in this case did not even bother to introduce any evidence to rebut the defense’s expert witness testimony; the State apparently was relying on the fact that trial and appellate courts in Texas will bend over backwards to accommodate the prosecution. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals utilizes the Briseno Factors, a test that even it admits is not based so much on “science” as the character of “Lennie Small” from Steinbeck’s classic “Of Mice and Men.” No, seriously.
Mental Retardation and the Death Penalty