A Georgia parole panel yesterday refused to grant clemency to Robert Wayne Holsey, who is scheduled to die tonight byy lethal injection, unpersuaded by evidence that he was ineptly represented at trial by a drunken lawyer, had an exceptionally harsh childhood and has a severe intellectual deficit, reports the New York Times. Holsey’s attorneys appealed to the Georgia Supreme Court. They argued that the state's standard for determining intellectual disability in capital cases, the nation’s most stringent, is contrary to a Supreme Court decision.
Holsey was convicted of armed robbery and murder in 1997. He had robbed a convenience store and shot and killed a pursuing officer. His lawyer later admitted that at the time he was drinking up to a quart of vodka daily and facing theft charges that would land him in prison. He said he should not have been representing Holsey. A trial judge ruled that the lawyer had failed to present evidence effectively that might have forestalled a death penalty, including facts about Holsey's history and his intellectual deficit. The Georgia Supreme Court reversed the decision, ruling that the jury had heard enough evidence about mitigating factors during the initial trial. The Times said many legal experts think the Georgia standard violates a Supreme Court ruling last May that said states cannot create “an unacceptable risk that persons with intellectual disability will be executed.”