Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Marvin Wilson: Set to be executed this evening; Focus on his "extreme" case conceals a very ugly larger truth; Erika Christakis; Time.

STORY: "Dancing around the death penalty," by Erika Christakis, published in Time on August 7, 2012.

SUB-HEADING: "We tie ourselves into knots wondering when executions might be defensible, but this is the wrong question to be asking."
GIST: "Central casting couldn’t produce a better illustration of what’s wrong with the death penalty than Marvin Wilson, the 53-year-old Texan with an IQ of 61 who is (barring an unforeseen stay) scheduled for execution this evening. With the mental age of a 6-year-old, he reportedly had trouble mastering basic self-care skills like tying his shoes and counting change. His alleged role in the kidnapping and murder of police drug informant Jerry Williams was always unclear; no evidence or eyewitness reports directly linked him to the murder, and his alleged co-conspirator, Terry Lewis, escaped with a life sentence (with parole) when his wife testified that Wilson had confessed the crime to her. Yet, the focus on extreme cases like Wilson’s — and whether he is legally and somehow “legitimately” executable despite his mental incapacity — prevents us from facing a larger truth that all state-sanctioned executions are a shameful relic of a bygone era along with the burning of witches and the use of child labor in mines."

PUBLISHER'S VIEW: As Publisher of the Charles Smith Blog, I add my voice to those who are protesting the pending execution of Marvin Wilson - a man who received a 61 on the standard Wechsler full-scale I.Q. test, a score placing him below the first percentile of human intelligence and far below the I.Q. threshold for mental retardation. Let me make this clear: I am utterly opposed to capital punishment and am pleased to be a citizen of Canada, a country which abolished capital punishment many years ago. So it's all the more disturbing that Texas is brazenly perverting scientific criteria relating to mental retardation so that it can frustrate the U.S. Supreme Court's intentions and take this "child- like man's" life. Mr. Wilson's lawyers have filed a petition for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking it to consider whether the approach taken by Texas to redefine Marvin Wilson's mental status represents an unreasonable application of the Supreme Court’s rule against executing offenders with mental retardation. The execution is set for August 7. I truly hope they succeed. Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.


I am monitoring this case. Keep your eye on the Charles Smith Blog for reports on developments.

The Toronto Star, my previous employer for more than twenty incredible years, has put considerable effort into exposing the harm caused by Dr. Charles Smith and his protectors - and into pushing for reform of Ontario's forensic pediatric pathology system. The Star has a "topic" section which focuses on recent stories related to Dr. Charles Smith. It can be found at:


Information on "The Charles Smith Blog Award"- and its nomination process - can be found at:


Please send any comments or information on other cases and issues of interest to the readers of this blog to: hlevy15@gmail.com

Harold Levy: Publisher; The Charles Smith Blog.