Ragged Edge online


News from the

U.S. Supreme Court Halts McCarver Execution

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 early reports.

"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 McCarver.

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 request.

The Death Penalty Information Center has dedicated the following web page to people with mental retardation who have faced the death penalty in the United States: http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/dpicmr.html

Back to home page




© Copyright 2000 The Ragged Edge


This Website produced by Cliffwood Organic Works