by Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
March 2, 2001
This article is reproduced here under special arrangement with Inclusion
Daily Express Email News Service.
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA, March 2 --Just a few minutes after Governor Mike Easley
announced he would not stop the execution of convicted murderer Ernest Paul
McCarver, word came that the U.S. Supreme Court was ordering a temporary
stay of execution.
McCarver had eaten his "last meal", had visited with his brother and
daughter, and was 6 hours away from his scheduled 2 a.m. execution.
Details as to why the high court handed down the order were not available in
"We know he's going to be alive for breakfast tomorrow," said McCarver's
attorney Seth Cohen.
McCarver was sentenced to face the death penalty for murdering a coworker in
1987. His defense team had filed a petition with the federal Supreme Court
earlier this week, after the North Carolina Supreme Court reversed a stay
ordered by a lower court on Monday.
At issue is McCarver's IQ. A recent IQ test gave him a score of 67, which is
below the cut-off of 70 that many experts use for designating mental
retardation. He had scored between 70 and 80 on an earlier test.
The state legislature is considering a bill that would prohibit the death
penalty for people determined to have mental retardation.
If passed, it likely would not go into effect until December. McCarver's
supporters would like that law to be retroactive, so it would include
Last Monday, Superior Court Judge Leon Stanback placed a stay on the
execution, noting that the General Assembly was working on the proposal that
would end capital punishment for people with IQ scores below 70, considered
by many experts as the cut-off for mental retardation. The state Supreme Court threw out Stanbeck's ruling the following day, noting that
his decision was not consistent with current state law, and that the judge
should not have based his ruling on a proposed bill.
McCarver was convicted in the 1987 stabbing death of coworker Woodrow
Hartley, 71. His supporters, including disability advocates, and state
prosecutors presented their arguments to the governor during a hearing on
Wednesday. His defenders said he should not be executed, at least until the
legislature deals with the bill, and that he has the "functioning level of a
10-year-old". Prosecutors argued that he was capable of planning and
committing the murder and even recruited an accomplice.
McCarver's attorneys also planned to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to stop the
execution. It is unlikely, however, that the high court will grant that
The Death Penalty Information Center has dedicated the following web page to
people with mental retardation who have faced the death penalty in the
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