Death Penalty Info Center has an eye-opening post today on the scheduled execution of Edward Bell in Virginia. Bell is a Jamaican immigrant convicted of killing a police officer, but there are two bothersome facts about his case.
For one, Bell is legally retarded in Virginia, with an IQ of 68 and “serious deficiencies in adaptive functioning.” However, he has never received a hearing to prove his retardation.
Second, “Judge James Jones of the Eastern District of Virginia held that the representation Bell received violated constitutional standards.” His defense attorney failed him by presenting zero mitigating evidence at trial, making no attempts to “shed light on his character, motives, or background.”
I pointed out yesterday that Virginia is taking steps in the opposite direction of most states by looking to increase the use of its expensive and unfairly applied death penalty. Today we learn that a mentally retarded immigrant whose Constitutional rights were violated could be the Commonwealth’s next victim.